Fortunate for a variety of bounty

Keith and Sam last Saturday after we received 2/10th of an inch of rain. The pumpkins grew tremendously, and after Tuesday’s 2 and 2/10 inch of rain, we saw another growth spurt.

How much of a growth spurt from the heat, humidity and rain? I believe this broom corn has grown over a foot since this weekend.

As we look at the variety of produce in our boxes, one may be overwhelmed by it not wanting it to go to waste. So I wanted to address with you how to use and store it. Before moving on, I also must mention how fortunate we are this year. If you have not seen it, please view the U.S. Drought Monitor to see how much of the United States and its farmers are in a drought. Please pray for rain for all who need it.

When I look at the garden produce, I plan meal options for the upcoming week which includes: salads every noon at work and dividing out the vegetable produce throughout the week for the evening meals.

But, one needs to be realistic. It may not all get used this week, even with good intentions. So please consider, how to store it for use later this year.

Storing Vegetables

Remember that potatoes can be good keepers when stored in a cold, dark place with some air circulation. Many may keep through most of the winter.

We dry our onions out in our garage. We lay an old window screen on top of some old tile – so there is air movement, and we lay the onions on top of the screen for a month or so. I check on them now and again to make sure they are drying. When I have time, I gather the onions and chop them up for storage in our freezer. I will address this on another blog.

We can many of our tomatoes for salsa and tomato juice. I will then make the tomato juice into spaghetti sauce when I am ready to use it. But if I don’t have the quantities I need for canning I will freeze the tomatoes until I have time to deal with them.

Green beans and cucumbers, I would suggest pickling. Last week’s post, I had information on sunshine pickles. But would also suggest refrigerator pickles if you are not fond of canning.

Last week, I described how to freeze herbs to save for later this year.

A view from above of one of the CSA boxes this week.

BOXES OF PRODUCE

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Remember food safety when preparing, always wash your produce before eating.

Salad Blend includes: Simpson Elite Lettuce, Prizehead Lettuce, Red Oak Leaf Lettuce, Beet Leaves and Spinach – Wash, cut off longer stems.

Cucumbers – We shared some of the cucumbers earlier this week with the students at the Northfield Montessori. We are having to pick every couple days. Let us know if you are interested in extra for pickling. Check out the link at America’s Heartland on cucumber harvest, but even more interesting is the video of Minnesota’s own Gedney Pickle Company. We may try these refrigerator pickles this weekend.

Green Beans – A good healthy harvest this week. The boys and I are going to try a quart of Sunshine Pickles with the green beans. Another idea for using the produce.

Summer Squash – zucchini recipes

Onions – We can assure you a plentiful supply of onions this year. From Walla Walla, yellow and purple onions.

Keith inspecting the onion crop. A challenge every year is to stay in front of the weeds so that they don’t overcome the crop. This heat and humidity have made weed control a good source of exercise.

Potatoes – This week we have Norland – great for mashed or boiled potatoes and Kennebec – great for baking. Are you curious about how potatoes are harvested across our nation America’s Heartland has a couple of videos to show the harvesting on today’s farms.

Potatoes are a tuber. They grow underground and are attached to the plants root system. How many potatoes you get from a plant is a direct result of plant genetics, weather, plant pests and soil nutrients. These are Norland potatoes.

Tomatoes – We are so excited to have some tomatoes in your boxes this week. More varieties are forthcoming. For those of you who enjoy BLTs – look forward to next week!

Peppers – A few varieties were ready this week – green and banana peppers.

Herbs – Mint, oregano, cilantro, thyme and lemon thyme Remember you can dry them or you can freeze in an ice-cube to use later. No parsley this week. We had this lovely visitor enjoying them on Monday evening.

Our lovely visitor that ate most of the parsley before I found him.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers this week.

Lazy Tacos

Crush corn chips and layer taco favorites on top such as:

taco meat, onions, black olives, tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar cheese, chilli beans, cucumbers, salsa, cottage cheese or salad dressing

Chop onion. I love my Pampered Chef chopper. Great tool for the kitchen!!

When browning my hamburger, I add a little bit of onion finely chopped so the kids don’t notice it.

While the hamburger is cooking, I wash my lettuce and place in my salad spinner. Again, the salad spinner is a must have tool. By spinning the moisture off my washed lettuce I find that it keeps longer in my refrigerator.

When slicing tomatoes, I have found that using a serrated knife works great. No more smashed tomatoes. I have a designated cutting board in my kitchen for all vegetables and fruits and a totally separate cutting board set aside for only meats. Just an extra safety precaution in our kitchen. Keeping foods separate to avoid cross contamination.

Homemade salsa from last year is a delicious addition to this meal.

Lazy taco…add a side of fruit and a glass of milk, and you have a well-balanced, colorful and fun meal for the family.

Rain brings relief

I am glad I waited to write the post until this morning. We received 1 and 3/10th inches  of rain yesterday afternoon. We were also fortunate to receive 15/100ths last Friday. The plants are all sighing a huge relief and so are we.

We had started a regular routine of irrigation last week, but nothing satisfies the needs of a plant like Mother Nature. There just isn’t a substitute. So with the moisture, humidity, heat and warm nights, the plants will have some significant development. I am also hopeful to see growth from the spinach, carrots, peas, Dragon Tongue beans and lettuce varieties that we planted the week of June 24.

The boys found a red tomato. Hopeful that all of the green tomatoes will start ripening.

BOXES OF PRODUCE

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Look for new links on recipes etc. Also remember food safety when preparing, always wash your before eating. http://bit.ly/MBhskn

Salad Blend includes: Simpson Elite Lettuce, Prizehead Lettuce, Red Oak Leaf Lettuce, Beet Leaves and Spinach – Wash, cut off longer stems.

Peas – The pods are edible so enjoy eating them out of the pod or the pod and all. This is the last harvest until the ones planted the week of June 24 begin to grow. This rain will help!!

Cucumbers – We had a lot ready to be picked over the weekend. We picked them and made some sunshine pickles. SEE RECIPE BELOW.

Cucumbers climbing up and hanging down through the fence. This helps keep the soil off of them keeping them cleaner and also helps to prevent soil borne issues with the cucumber.

Broccoli – A new variety. We started these from seed mid-March using clear peanut butter jars with holes drilled in the top. This was by far our best starter greenhouse this year.

Green Beans – A good healthy harvest this week.

Chioggia Beets –  Beautiful red bulbs with a few white bulbs in the mix.

Summer Squash – Zuchinni

Potatoes – Varieties included are red (Norland – great for mashed or boiled potatoes), Kennebec (baking – brown skin) and blue potatoes (love mashing them … a lot of fun with kids and makes a colorful plate). The US Potato Board has some good information and recipes.

Tomatoes – We have a lot of green tomatoes on the vine a few cherry tomatoes have turned. I am hopeful for some next week.

Peppers – A few varieties were ready this week – green and banana peppers.

Herbs – Red  Rubin basil, mint, parsley, orange thyme and lemon thyme Remember you can dry them or you can freeze in an ice-cube to use later. SEE PHOTO STORY BELOW TO WALK YOU THROUGH THIS.

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias, hosta leaves, Rudbeckia, sunflowers to name a few.

SUNSHINE PICKLES

Shared by GayLene Johnson and Stacey VanGeldren

Recipe for pickling cucumbers, asparagus and green beans.

*Get a large glass container with a screw on lid or canning jar lid and ring.

The recipe is for one gallon jar. (Size up/down for your jar size.) The gallon recipe is listed below the pictures.

The recipe listed in the pictures is for 2 quart jars which is 1/2 the recipe.

Editor’s Note: Because I felt this would take up less room and this was our first time trying the recipe.

First, we picked the cucumbers. Note the flowers on the cucumbers. The flowers are what produce the parts of the plant that we eat. Sure glad the bees have been busy pollinating!

Always remember to wash your fruits and vegetables. I washed the cucumbers under cold water to remove the flowers, dirt and little prickles.

Clean cucumbers.

Next we made the brine. We made half of the recipe below so the half recipe is listed in the pictures. This is what we did. In a separate bowl where we combined and stirred together: 3 cups cold water, 3/4 cup white vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of Kosher salt (a substitute for canning salt).

Next we added to the bottom of each quart jar: *Put 1-2 cloves of garlic and 1-2 heads of dill on the bottom of the jar. Keith had fun separating out the cloves of garlic.

Sam placed 1 – 2 heads of dill in each quart jar.

Next we filled and packed the jars full of smaller cucumbers.

After placing 1 garlic clove and 1 heads of dill in each jar on top of the vegetables, we poured our brine into each jar.

Covered each jar with a piece of rye bread. I couldn’t find rye only bread at the store so I looked for bread made with rye flour as part of the ingredients.

Wipe the top of the jars with a clean cloth and then tighten the lids. I did run the jars and lids through the dishwasher prior to doing this project to ensure they were as sanitary as possible.

Two boys excited to see how this recipe will turn out and proud of what they have helped to make.

Set in the sun for 3 days and 3 nights. If you have a gloomy or cloudy day you may want to add another day. Then bring the jar in and take out the rye bread and dill and garlic on the top of the jar. Refrigerate and enjoy. The result was a success. Steve and Keith who are the pickle consumers in the family loved them! A few of the pickles bleached white in the sun, but they said the were delicious.

Brine (for Gallon recipe below):

6 cups cold water

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

6 Tablespoons canning salt (I used Kosher salt)

*Put 2-6 cloves of garlic and 3-4 heads of dill on the bottom of the jar.

*Fill with cucumbers, asparagus or green beans.

*Put 2-4 garlic cloves and 2 heads of dill on the top of the vegetables.

*Cover all ingredients with the brine.

*Then put one slice of rye bread on the top of everything.

*Put the cover on and set in the sun for 3 days and 3 nights. If you have a gloomy or cloudy day you may want to add another day. Then bring the jar in and take out the rye bread and dill and garlic on the top of the jar. Refrigerate. Ready to eat!! Very crispy and yummy! Always keep in the fridge. You do not can these.

FREEZING HERBS

Wash herbs under cold water.

Cut or pull herbs apart and place smaller portions in the separate compartments in an ice cube tray. This tray I found in the $1 isle at Target.

A closer look at how Keith was doing this.

Run water over the herbs and place in the freezer.

Once frozen, take out of tray and place in labeled bag or container. These will come in handy throughout the year when a recipe calls for an herb. Just take the ice cube and place in the recipe. Fresh herbs throughout the year.

Thankful for what Mother Nature Provides

It is amazing that throughout the growing season we are always hopeful for specifics from Mother Nature. Right now, we are in need of rain. I know this is ironic given the amount we received a few weeks ago, but the 11 1/2 inches of rain came so quickly that the amount that actually soaked in was minimal in comparison to what fell.

As we traveled across the Midwest last week to be with relatives in southern Ohio, we saw crops in dire need of moisture, and we fully recognize that we are in better shape than many in regards to moisture.

A nice rain this week and next would help start the seeds that I planted two weeks ago. I have started watering them so hopefully we will see some germination this weekend.

Sam excited to show us the Zinnias had bloomed.

Keith investigating the first sunflower.

Sam searching for sunflower seeds.

BOXES OF PRODUCE

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Look for new links on recipes etc. Also remember food safety when preparing, always wash your before eating. http://bit.ly/MBhskn

Rhubarb – Our last harvest for the season of this delicious treat! See the Almond Rhubarb Cake recipe at the bottom of the post shared by one of our members Sharon VandeWiele.

Simpson Elite Lettuce – Wash, cut off longer stems. Should grow better in warmer weather with better flavor.

Prizehead Lettuce – Wash, cut off longer stems.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – Wash, cut off longer stems.

The lettuce growing in the pallet gardens are doing well with minimal weeding needed.

Beets –  We are thinning out the rows so the bulbs have more room to grow, so enjoy these small beautiful red bulbs.

Peas – The pods are edible so enjoy eating them out of the pod or the pod and all.

Green Beans – This is our first harvest out of the garden this year. We will see how long they last in this heat and humidity.

Summer Squash

I use a serrated knife when cutting tomatoes. No smashing the tomato which results in beautiful slices.


Green Tomatoes – some of you mentioned an interest in doing some recipes with green tomatoes. So we have included a few for you to try some recipes. http://www.marthastewart.com/search/apachesolr_search/Green%20tomatoes

Cucumbers – The cucumbers are beginning to grow like crazy! So look forward to more of these delicious veggies.

We have taught Keith how to use the peeler, and he loves helping peel vegetables. Our theory – engaging kids in meal preparation will increase their interest in trying new foods. Above, he is peeling one of the first cucumbers of the season that he found in his garden hunt.

Herbs – Chives, Red  Rubin basil, mint, parsley and golden oregano. Remember you can dry them or you can freeze in an ice-cube to use later.

Last night, I grilled turkey which I drizzled honey over and topped with a few sprigs of orange thyme. When I turned it over, I drizzled it again with honey. After the internal temperature reached 170 degrees Fahrenheit, I served it to my family. Yes, I do use a meat thermometer. It is key in successfully cooking tender, delicious meat.

Fresh cut arrangement – The Zinnias and sunflowers are beginning to flower but only a few. I did include a small arrangement of Zinnias and hosta leaves. I am including some Cattails in your boxes this week for a dried arrangement. I have sprayed with hairspray to prevent them from seeding out. You may also want to spray them to make sure. Once sprayed they will last a long time in your house. If not sprayed, they will seed out quickly and become a mess.

As you look at the south part of the garden there are from left to right, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, more potatoes, salad crops, flowers and strawberry popcorn.

We have used some fences for the vines to grow up. For example as the cucumbers grow up the fence they will hang through the fence. We also put mulch in to help minimize disease, improve vegetable quality and retain moisture for the plants.
The tepees in the far corner Steve built a few years ago for the kids to have a fun place to play as the vines grow around them it makes a fun hide out. On the left is the broom corn and on the right is the ornamental corn.

Almond Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 45 Minutes
Servings: 24

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 9 inch round pans.
2. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla together until smooth. Combine flour, salt and baking soda; add to sugar mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Stir in rhubarb and 1/2 cup almonds. Pour into prepared pans.
3. In a small bowl, combine white sugar and butter or margarine. Stir in 1/4 cup almonds. Sprinkle topping over batter.
4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake tests done.

Treasure Hunt in the Garden

Last night after returning from a few days in Ohio, the boys and I proceeded to investigate the garden to prepare for today’s delivery. As I was walking to the garden, the boys came running with excitement. They told me to hurry for they had found something! I was pleasantly surprised to find many garden treasurers unveiled from squash to pumpkins to tomatoes and broccoli.

Keith and Sam showing me the summer squash medley they found.

Both Keith and Sam were filled with so much excitement as they ran around the garden exclaiming, “This is just like an Easter egg hunt. This is so much fun!!” That is why I garden, and why we started the CSA: to help our children learn and grow, to reap the rewards of their efforts, to share the bounty with others and to discover the amazing miracles that happen with Mother Nature. There is such joy to see this unfold with them.

Spaghetti squash growing.

Sam and Keith looking for cucumbers. We installed fencing in the garden last week for the vines to climb. This will allow us to utilize the space more efficiently and allow the cucumbers to grow down through the fencing.

These broccoli we started from seed under peanut butter containers with holes drilled in the top. Unfortunately, not all of them survived the June storms. It sure is a stunning looking vegetable.

Several varieties of lettuce are thriving in the new pallet gardens. Hope they are ready to harvest next week with all of this heat and humidity.

The boys found all five varieties of tomatoes were producing green tomatoes. Now we need to wait for them to ripen.

Potato bugs are a major pest for us. Over the years, we have consulted with Master Gardeners and U of M soil scientists. We have used insecticide we can purchase off the shelf, and we have used organic insecticides. Nothing has worked to effectively control them. This year, Steve applied for his pesticide applicator license, took a very detailed test, and this year we have used an insecticide that I personally feel is far safer for my family then what we have bought off the shelf. We will constantly search for improved ways to control them. If we did not spray, we would not have NO potatoes. We log when we spray, and weather conditions at application. If you would prefer not to have them because we use the insecticide, please let us know. We fully respect your right to choose.

Potato bugs are a major pest for us. Over the years, we have consulted with Master Gardeners and U of M soil scientists. We have used insecticide purchased off the shelf in the garden supply section, and we have used organic methods. Nothing has worked to effectively control them. This year, Steve applied for his pesticide applicator license and took a very detailed test for us to purchase a different insecticide to control the potato bugs. I personally feel this is far safer for my family then what we have bought off the shelf. We will constantly search for improved ways to control them. If we did not spray, we would have NO potatoes. We log when we spray and weather conditions at application. If you would prefer not to have potatoes because we use the insecticide, please let us know. We fully respect your right to choose. Please understand that as a mother and someone who has worked in agriculture, I know the stringent tests that all pesticides (insecticides) undergo before farmers can use them. For more information go to: www.extension.umn.edu/pesticides/private.html or to http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/main/food_for_thought/0/10

BOXES OF PRODUCE

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Look for new links on recipes etc. Also remember food safety when preparing, always wash your before eating. http://bit.ly/MBhskn

Rhubarb – We will not have any this week, but am hoping for one more harvest next week.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – Wash, cut off longer stems. These plants are struggling to recover from the storms. Our second and third plantings of salad crops took a beating. We have replanted. With this heat and humidity, we hope to have spinach and several varieties of lettuce very shortly.

Simpson Elite Lettuce – Wash, cut off longer stems. Should grow better in warmer weather with better flavor.

Prizehead Lettuce – Wash, cut off longer stems. Should be tender and tasty!

Beets –  We are thinning out the rows so the bulbs have more room to grow, so enjoy these small beautiful red bulbs.

Carrots – Enjoy some fresh garden carrots!

Peas – The pods are edible so enjoy eating them out of the pod or the pod and all.

Green Beans – This is our first harvest out of the garden this year. We will see how long they last in this heat and humidity.  http://www.marthastewart.com/search/apachesolr_search/green%20beans

Summer Squash – Check out Martha Stewart’s site for recipes.  http://www.marthastewart.com/search/apachesolr_search/using%20summer%20squash

Herbs – Chives, Red  Rubin basil, mint, parsley and golden oregano. Remember you can dry them or you can freeze in an ice cube to use later.

Fresh cut arrangement