The Effort is Worth It

The Minnesota State Fair is a wrap. It’s the pinnacle for people who participate. For our family, showing 4-H projects at the state fair is the culmination of work over the past year.

Minnesota is one of the few states, if not the only at least for the larger livestock states where 4-Hers need to qualify by their placement at the county fair in order to show at the state fair. For the boys to show swine and vegetables, they had to place in the state fair line-up for their pigs (livestock) and for their vegetables (general project) in order to advance to show at the state fair. 4-Hers can bring one livestock and one general project to the state fair.

The experience at the county fair is unique to the county, and the experience at the state fair is unique to the state. Both boys exhibited a pig (swine) at the state fair receiving blues. Both also chose to take their 4-H vegetable general project to the state fair. With the vegetables, we do several plantings throughout the summer which provides for vegetables to be ready for harvest at the right time for the county fair in July and the state fair in August.

Sam brought the largest vegetable. So, he was investigating, fostering (fertilizing and pruning) and observing a variety of vegetables until he decided on a zucchini that was 12 pounds and two feet long. Keith brought a vegetable, fruit and herb box which includes two small, three medium and one large vegetable. His box included: sugar-snap peas, cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, carrots, beets and watermelon. Both left the conference style judging with blues, and Keith found out later that the judged improved his placing to a purple.

What is our why for participating in the state fair? It isn’t the ribbons. It is the experiences, the people that you meet, and the relationships and community that you build. Last but not least, the skill that our kids learn and gain from these experiences are unique and foundational. So when we are exhausted and weary from the experience, we all know it is worth it. 4-H is worth it. We encourage you to give 4-H a try whether a youth member or an adult volunteer. It’s easy to say you don’t have enough time. Make the time, you won’t regret it. The effort is worth it!

Garden Science

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 in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Spinach/Black Seeded Simpson/Red Oak Leaf Mix – You will notice that there has been insect pressure on the spinach eating small holes in some of the leaves. The last crop of these plants are ready to be harvested.

Carrots –You may notice a few carrots where the potato fork may have broken them off in digging. Here are some ways to use your carrots from Martha Stewart.

Cucumbers – Let us know if you would like to make pickles and would like dill. Here are cucumber recipes from Martha Stewart.

Dark Red Beets – Learn more about the health benefits of eating beats from the Mayo Clinic. This is an interesting resource from NDSU Extension.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – The last week of peas.

Dragon Tongue Beans – We may have one more week of beans. Think about ways to preserve them so your family can enjoy them this winter. Perhaps you don’t have time to can … maybe make them in a soup and freeze the soup for a quick meal.

Potatoes – Red Norlands are great for mashed potatoes. Check out this week’s recipe below for potato bread.

Onion – Cut up and freeze your onion to add quickly to a meal that you are making. I think the dry weather affected their size this year.

Tomatoes – Fourth of July and Sun Gold Hybrid cherry tomatoes this week. Let us know if you would like some for canning.

Peppers – A variety from sweet to mild to hot! The variety of peppers this week primarily are yummy pepper, carnival blend and jungle pepper. The hot ones are marked as such and are only in a few boxes for those that have indicated that they like hot peppers.

Kohlrabi – This vegetable can be peeled and cut finely and added to hot dishes or cut like an apple and eaten raw plain or with peanut butter.

Eggplant – Learn how to use this vegetable here.

Purple Cabbage

Zucchini – So many wonderful ways to use Zucchini. Check out these interesting facts about this vegetable on LiveStrong. Try this pasta primavera recipe from Martha Stewart.

Summer Squash – Check out these recipes from Farm Flavor.

Recipe of the Week

Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie

4 Tbsp. butter

1/2 c. finely diced onion

1/2 c. finely diced carrot

1/2 c. finely diced celery

3 c. shredded cooked chicken or turkey

1/4 c flour

3 c. low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed

Splash of white wine (optional)

1/4 tsp. turmeric

Salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped fresh thyme to taste

1/4 c. half-and-half or cream

1 whole unbaked pie crust

1 whole egg

2 Tbsp. water


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrots, and celery. Stir them around until the onions start to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chicken or turkey and then sprinkle the flour over the top and stir it until it’s all combined with the turkey and vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, then pour in the chicken broth (and wine if using) and stir it around and let it cook and thicken.
  4. Once it starts to thicken add the turmeric, salt, pepper, and thyme.
  5. Add the half-and-half or cream, then stir the mixture and let it bubble up and thicken, about 3 minutes. If it seems overly thick, splash in a little more broth. Turn off the heat.
  6. Pour the filling into a 2-quart baking dish. Roll out the pie crust on a floured surface and lay it over the top of the dish. Press the dough so that the edges stick to the outside of the pan. Use a knife to cut little vents here and there in the surface of the dough.
  7. Mix together the egg with 2 tablespoons water and brush it all over the surface of the crust. (You will have some egg wash left over.)
  8. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. To prevent the crust from getting too brown, you might want to cover it lightly with foil for the first 15 minutes of baking time.

Source: Pioneer Woman

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