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.

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