Dance like no one’s watching

Dance like no one’s watching

Pumpkins etched with Care for your Families. Thank you for being a member of our CSA!

Pumpkins etched with Care for your Families. Thank you for being a member of our CSA!

The other night when we were working, I had the Happy station playing on Pandora. The songs were those that made you want to sing and dance. So the boys and I were singing and dancing like no one was watching. Their smiles and laughter were contagious, and the stress and our exhaustion from our days seemed to be pushed away.

It reminded of me of picking rock when I was growing up. Those were some long days in the field. Rock picking can be long, hot, boring work, but when we blared the radio on the tractor, the singing and the dancing ensued and laughter followed.

As we push for our fall cleanup to be completed, it’s these moments that I want to freeze in time. Time to be crazy, time to accomplish, time to learn and explore and time to have fun, all as a family.

Remember in the end, your kids simply want to laugh and play with you and dance like no one is watching.

Garden clean-up has begun. The boys used a shredder to break down the plants so that we can incorporate them into the soil.

Garden clean-up has begun. The boys used a shredder to break down the plants so that we can incorporate them into the soil.

Garden Science

So are you wondering how the names are created on your pumpkins? It begins at the end of July/beginning of August.

The boys carefully select pumpkins that they think go with the amount of letters in your last name and a pumpkin that will grow to be a nice size for your front porch.

The boys carefully select pumpkins that they think go with the amount of letters in your last name, and a pumpkin that will grow to be a nice size for your front porch.

Then using their great-great grandpa's wood working tools that were hand carved, they carefully etch out your last names in the pumpkin. This will then appear as a

Then using their great-great grandpa’s wood working tools that were hand carved, they carefully etch out your last names in the pumpkin. This will then appear as a “scar” on the skin of the pumpkin. A great way for the boys to work on their spelling, their letter writing and how to work gently with a young plant.

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.

Some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So wash your vegetables before eating.

Lettuce and Spinach – Enjoy this mix on some BLTs or salads.

Carrots – We are having a healthy crop. Hope you are enjoying them.

Green Beans – A little taste – We were surprised that the new crop of green beans and sugar snap peas were not quite ready. Both are blooming and those blooms will grow into the vegetables. Hoping next week.

Broccoli – Broccoli for your salads.

Kohlrabi – Maybe one more week??

Beets – Enjoy the beets before they are all harvested.

Yellow Onions

Cucumbers – Enjoy the “ugly” cucumbers:) The tail end of the cucumbers.

Peppers – A few green peppers with the small Habanero peppers. Choose a few tonight. Fun facts about peppers.

Tomato varieties abound.

Tomato varieties abound.

Tomatoes – Tomato varieties included in your boxes: Yellow Girls, Honey Delights, Big Boys, Roma, Fourth of July, Big Mammas, Honey Delights, Amish Paste and cherry tomatoes. The tomato crop is quickly slowing down. Let us know if you would like any to freeze or can.

Potatoes – Midnight Moon and Masquerade in your box this week. Additional varieties will reappear next week. Learn more about potatoes here.

We broke of the bad parts of the corn that had ear worm. Then boiled the good sweet corn for about 8-10 minutes and cut off the corn to freeze and enjoy throughout the year.

We broke of the bad parts of the corn that had ear worm. Then boiled the good sweet corn for about 8-10 minutes and cut off the corn to freeze and enjoy throughout the year.

Sweet Corn – After finding the earworm in way to many ears, this crop was shredded and will be incorporated into the soil to build soil health. We are looking into our options to prevent this pest next year while providing more sweet corn for your families to enjoy. We did salvage the good part of our ears, boiled them for 8-10 minutes in boiling water, cut the corn off the ears and froze the corn for us to enjoy the rest of the year.

Basil – Pull a plant, replant in your garden or use it fresh.

Melons – Choice of watermelon or cantaloupe. This is the end of the crop. Enjoy!

The boys had a great time harvesting your name pumpkins.

The boys had a great time harvesting your name pumpkins.

Pumpkins – The boys enjoyed etching your names into the young pumpkins a few weeks ago. So while they may not look exactly perfect, please know they were done with much joy for each of your families by the boys to show gratitude for your families to enjoy this fall.

What a variety of gourds we have this year. These two resembled snakes. We hope you enjoy your share. Look for more next week.

What a variety of gourds we have this year. These two resembled snakes. We hope you enjoy your share. Look for more next week.

Gourds – A variety of them abound from Baby Boos to egg gourds to Jack-Be-Littles and more. Enjoy your share this week and look for more next week.

The ornamental corn colors are beautiful.

The ornamental corn colors are beautiful.

Fresh cut arrangement – Ornamental corn – one bunch for each of you. This crop was beat up by winds and a few storms this year. We plan to increase the amount of plants planted next year.

Recipe of the Week

Butternut Squash

A family favorite! I freeze and use throughout the year in recipes that call for pumpkin.

1. Using a butcher knife, split the squash in half lengthwise. Place in a cake pan, put about 1/4 - 1/2 inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for at least an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Remove from oven. peel off the skin using a knife or turn it over and scoop out cooked squash. Scoop out and remove the seeds - discard (seeds could be cooked using a pumpkin seed recipe). 3. Place cooked squash in bowl with 1/2 cup of stick butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Mix and enjoy.

1. Using a butcher knife, split the squash in half lengthwise. Place in a cake pan, put about 1/4 – 1/2 inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for at least an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove from oven. peel off the skin using a knife or turn it over and scoop out cooked squash. Scoop out and remove the seeds – discard (seeds could be cooked using a pumpkin seed recipe).
3. Place cooked squash in bowl with 1/2 cup of stick butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Mix and enjoy.

Squash mixed up and ready to be eaten or frozen. I freeze mine in cupcake tins, after they are frozen I put them in a Ziploc bag and pull them out as needed for meals or when a recipe calls for pumpkin.

Squash mixed up and ready to be eaten or frozen. I freeze mine in cupcake tins, after they are frozen I put them in a Ziploc bag and pull them out as needed for meals or when a recipe calls for pumpkin.

Butternut Squash

1 squash

1/2 cup of stick butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1. Using a butcher knife, split the squash in half lengthwise. Place in a cake pan, put about 1/4 – 1/2 inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for at least an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove from oven. peel off the skin using a knife or turn it over and scoop out cooked squash. Scoop out and remove the seeds – discard. Or seeds could be cooked using a pumpkin seed recipe.
3. Place cooked squash in bowl with 1/2 cup of stick butter and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Mix and enjoy.

4. Once squash is mixed up and ready to be eaten or freeze in cupcake tin. After they are frozen I put them in a Ziploc bag and pull them out as needed for meals or when a recipe calls for pumpkin.

Opportunities and Challenges

Opportunities and Challenges

We were happy to finishing digging potatoes this week. It was a beautiful fall evening to do this!

We were happy to finishing digging potatoes this week. It was a beautiful fall evening to do this!

It is hard to believe that this growing season is almost behind us. Like every growing season, there have been so many opportunities and challenges during the season.

Opportunities

1. Getting to know all of you better. We truly enjoy this opportunity to have great conversations and laughs with all of you while providing some garden joys for you and your families.

2. Working together as a family. While this can be challenging at times, it truly provides great opportunities of spending time together, learning together and accomplishing many things together.

3. Bringing science to life. When you see science in action it provides awesome hands on learning experiences difficult to replicate.

Challenges

Every challenge presents an opportunity for learning, and we have learned a lot and have plans for improvement next growing season. It is always interesting to discuss these challenges as a family. I am always amazed by our kids’ ingenuity and insightful thinking to provide a workable solution.

1. Peppers – Interesting year of growing peppers. Our bell peppers did not produce as much as they have in the past. We feel the weather simply wasn’t conducive for this vegetable. The new varieties of peppers that we planted are just coming into production now – interesting how the seeds were planted in March and production has just begun on those.

2. Pumpkin/Gourds – A variety of molds set in on the leaves – which killed the leaves and stopped the plant from growing. We also had squash bugs that loved to eat the pumpkins and gourds.

We learned a valuable lesson on seed saving and what is frustrating to both of us is we should have both thought of this! We saved pumpkin seeds from last year’s white pumpkins which were a hybrid pumpkins  A hybrid is created when plant breeders intentionally cross-pollinate two different varieties or species (ex. two different types of pumpkins), aiming to produce an offspring (hybrid) containing the best traits of the two parents. While we knew saving the seeds and planting them would be an experiment and one we could all learn from – the valuable lesson was as follows. Not every plant’s seeds are worth keeping. Hybrids are wonderful plants, but the seed is often sterile or does not reproduce true to the parent plant. Therefore, never save the seed from hybrids.

3. Replanting – lettuce, flowers, cabbage and garlic. Throughout the growing season, we continue to plant new crops of the vegetables to keep you supplied, and fresh veggies growing throughout the year. That is if Mother Nature cooperates. We went from a cool, wet June (in fact the wettest June in Minnesota history) to a very dry few weeks in July. I planted a few different crops of lettuces and flowers in July and had no luck of them growing due to the lack of rain. It didn’t matter if I irrigated. Nothing grew. As soon as we had some rain (about four weeks after I had planted), the lettuce seeds I had planted grew. The flowers on the other hand were delayed immensely and never produced. I planted garlic this spring – no luck – no growth. I am going to attempt to plant some this fall with the hope that we will have garlic this spring.

4. Insects – I mentioned the squash bugs earlier, and we have discussed the potato bugs on previous blogs. To control these insects, we are discussing additional flowers to plant in order to generate more beneficial insects, as well as other options for crop rotation that may help to get rid of these nemesis.

Fall Clean-up has began. Check it out. It doesn’t look the same out there. The boys have been fantastic help. Putting in long days to accomplish the tasks. They are good workers!

Clean-up has begun preparing for the cold weather to set in. Some of the plants have been mulched, the green mulch has been pulled. Above, Keith and Steve are rolling up the irrigation tubing for winter storage.

Clean-up has begun preparing for the cold weather to set in. Some of the plants have been shredded, and the green mulch has been pulled. Above, Keith and Steve are rolling up the irrigation tubing for winter storage.

Garden Science

So what has been eating the potatoes. We think it may be a vole. Don't worry these were recycled and fed to the chickens!

So what has been eating the potatoes. We think it may be voles. Don’t worry these potatoes were recycled as chicken feed!

 

Boxes of Produce

Reminder – This is the last week of the CSA boxes. This is a bonus box due to the interesting growing season. Thank you all for being shareholders this growing season.

Boxes and supplies can be returned at any time or in a few weeks when we connect about the red, white and blue popcorn.

This is how the boys feel when we are done harvesting one of the crops: excited, proud and relieved. Thank you all for a great season! We appreciate your trust and the opportunity to work with all of you!

This is how the boys feel when we are done harvesting one of the crops: excited, proud and relieved. Thank you all for a great season! We appreciate your trust and the opportunity to work with all of you!

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

Carrots – Enjoy these fresh carrots!

Broccoli I enjoy broccoli on my salads or I cook them on the grill and melt some sharp cheddar cheese over it.

Beets – One of my favorite garden vegetables. On the other hand my husband says they taste like dirt:)

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers – remember to cut these up and freeze them so you can use throughout the winter.

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big Mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) and cherry tomatoes. Do you have to many?  Try freezing them by simply cutting out the core, slicing them into quarters and place in a Ziploc bag for soups and chilli this winter.

Onions – No onions in the box this week, but I wanted to remind you that you can also preserve the onions by cutting them up and freezing them. It makes cooking a breeze when you don’t have that mess to clean up when a Tablespoon of onion is called for. It’s a lot easier to reach in the freezer and grab some frozen onions for the recipe.

Sam is holding the potato plant. Potatoes grow under the ground and are a tuber. Sometimes when you pull up the dead plant the potatoes come out attached to the plant like you see here.

Sam is holding the potato plant. Potatoes grow under the ground and are a tuber. Sometimes when you pull up the dead plant the potatoes come out attached to the plant like you see here.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Masquarde Potatoes –  A tasty potato that everyone in our house is excited to eat. These potatoes can be cooked or baked. I have had luck using this potato in many ways. It is very versatile. Kennebec potatoes – great for baked potatoes.

Butternut Squash – Freeze your leftovers in a cupcake tin and store in a ziplock bag or container. Use throughout the year as your “pumpkin” in your recipes.

Spaghetti SquashI have frozen this squash as well. Cook it up, take it out of the “shell” by using your fork to make it like spaghetti and freeze in portions that your family will use or that a recipe will call for. When thawing, I simply placed the frozen spaghetti squash in boiling water for a few minutes (just enough to thaw), and I was all set to go. 

Carnival Squash –  This squash has a nutty mild flavor and reminds me of an acorn squash.

We have a variety of different colored egg shells because we have different breads of chickens. The brown shelled eggs are from Red Stars, green shells from Araucana and white shelled eggs from Leghorns.

We have a variety of different colored egg shells because we have different breads of chickens. The brown shelled eggs are from Red Stars, green shells from Araucana and white shelled eggs from Leghorns. There is no nutritional difference, and the egg tastes is the same.

Eggs – Enjoy – let us know if you would like any eggs in the future. The boys sell them for $3 per dozen.

Sweet CornThank you to FarGaze Farms for this partnership in growing the sweet corn. Enjoy! To freeze my corn, I simply cook it as if I were going to eat it, cut it off the cob, place it in a container and freeze. To me, it is about keeping it simple and easy.

Fresh Arrangement – Hydrangea and Sedum – these can both be kept as fresh arrangements or dry arrangements. To dry – simply put in a vase with no water – enjoy for the remainder of the fall.

 

Recipe of the Week

Tater Tot Hotdish

A Minnesota favorite…I once had a Minnesotan who was born in California tell me, “I don’t know why you Minnesotans waste perfectly good tater tots on a hotdish.” This is a family favorite and an easy way to use many of your fresh or frozen vegetables.

Brown:

1 pound of hamburger

1 Tablespoon onion

Mix in:

1 can of Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken Soup

Frozen corn, peas and/or green beans

Top with tater tots (I was curious to see how some potatoes cut into French fries would work, but I have not tried that yet.)

Cook in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1/2 hour or until edges are bubbling. Enjoy!

Brown 1 pound of hamburger and about 1 Tablespoon onion.

Brown 1 pound of hamburger and about 1 Tablespoon onion.

I have also used venison. I am fortunate to have beef from my parents farm that we use. This can be browned over the stove or in the microwave.

I have also used venison. I am fortunate to have beef from my parents farm that we use. This can be browned over the stove or in the microwave.

Add a can of Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken soup - I like using a blend. Add about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables. I used corn, green beans and peas. Mix all of this together with the hamburger.

Add a can of Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken soup – I like using a blend. Add about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables. I used corn, green beans and peas. Mix all of this together with the hamburger.

Top with frozen tator tots. Place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees F for 1/2 hour or until edges are bubbling.

Top with frozen tater tots. Place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees F for 1/2 hour or until edges are bubbling.

Enjoy! Sometimes the boys like to eat it with ketchup on it.

Enjoy! Sometimes the boys like to eat it with ketchup on it.

 

Potato Bread

Check out this link for the recipe and photos to make this delicious bread.

A family favorite is potato bread. It really is quite simple and unbelievable moist. I served these buns with the hotdish along with some fresh melon from last week.

A family favorite is potato bread. It really is quite simple and unbelievable moist. I served these buns with the hotdish along with some fresh melon from last week.

 

 

 

Unveiling Surprises

Unveiling Surprises

The boys still had smiles after the many hours of harvesting.

The boys still had smiles after many hours of harvesting.

It was a busy weekend of harvesting and a few long days out in the garden. At one point as we were peeling back the husks on the ornamental corn Sam said, “Boy this is actually fun!” Every ear of corn unveiled a different surprise and fun colors.

The boys were out with us the entire day. You may wonder how we kept everyone motivated. Three keys were: music, machines and food! Cranking the music was a motivator in the field when I was young, and it continues to make the field work more enjoyable and entertaining today!

Machines always motivate boys because my boys are always interested in cool machines. Machines also help to ease the work load. This work is hard enough so anything that can improve efficiencies is a great thing!

I try hard to make some of their favorite foods for snack breaks and meals to help make the experience more enjoyable and to serve as a good motivator! I remember that my mom worked hard to do that for us, and it was very helpful. It also makes you feel loved and appreciated. I also remember working for some of our neighbors. You would have thought snack/lunch breaks were another meal time, and the food was always amazing!

It is hard for us to believe that the growing season is coming to an end. Mother Nature reminded us of that with its cooler temperatures last week. While we didn’t see a frost at our place, all you needed to do was look at the low-lying areas immediately around us to see that those areas did receive a frost putting an end to the growing season on those areas of the plant.

Look forward to a full box next week as we continue to harvest the crops!

We used a mulcher for the vines and stems so that they would break down and incorporate into the soil for organic matter.

We used a mulcher for the vines and stems so that they would break down and incorporate into the soil for organic matter.

The cats have been quite the entertainment. I caught them playing in the corn stalks.

The cats have been quite entertaining. I caught them playing in the corn stalks.

Boxes of Produce

Reminder – Next we is the last week of the CSA boxes. This is longer than your contract stated due to the interesting growing season!

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. 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.

Carrots – A few to try – more should be ready next week!

Broccoli Some interesting facts from Americas Heartland.

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers

Sunny Boys

Sunny Boys

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big Mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) and cherry tomatoes – Let us know if you need some tomatoes for canning. We ask for canning amounts that you give a free will donation.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple) – We pulled this crop this weekend and are drying the remaining onions.

Norland

Norland

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Masquarde Potatoes –  A tasty potato that everyone in our house is excited to eat. Purple Majesty – I used these as French fries this weekend. I cut them into French fries and place in a bowl of ice water for about 20-30 minutes. Then pat dry and place in the deep fat fryer.

Spaghetti SquashChoice of squash. Either Spaghetti or Carnival. Here is a recipe for Spaghetti squash from the Pioneer Woman and Taste of Home.

The Carnival squash has a thick exterior and has spotted and striped colors of white, orange, yellow and green, depending on its level of maturity. The presence of post-harvest green coloring indicates that the squash is still at its peak maturity. As the squashes ages, it will eventually only maintain orange and cream colors. It is semi-dry and firm in texture, fragrant and its flavoring, mild. The squash's true flavors only emerge once cooked. Then its flesh becomes richer, buttery, nutty and sweet.

The Carnival squash has a thick exterior and has spotted and striped colors of white, orange, yellow and green, depending on its level of maturity. The presence of post-harvest green coloring indicates that the squash is still at its peak maturity. As the squashes ages, it will eventually only maintain orange and cream colors. It is semi-dry and firm in texture, fragrant and its flavoring, mild. The squash’s true flavors only emerge once cooked. Then its flesh becomes richer, buttery, nutty and sweet.

Carnival Squash – Choice of squash – see above picture. This squash has a nutty mild flavor and reminds me of an acorn squash.

Sweet CornThank you to FarGaze Farms for this partnership in growing the sweet corn. Enjoy! Here’s an interesting link about sweet corn research from America’s Heartland.

Melons – A variety to choose from. Let us know what you think! Unfortunately we had some interesting Mother Nature challenges here as well which prevented us from having more for each of you. We hope you enjoy this sample, and we hope that next year will provide better opportunities for all of us.

Some of the broom corn was 12 feet long. We cut it down to 8 feet so it was more manageable for you.

Some of the broom corn was 12 feet long. We cut it down to 8 feet so it was more manageable for you.

Fresh Arrangement –ornamental corn, corn bunches and pumpkins

A variety of pumpkins to choose from.

A variety of pumpkins to choose from. We tried some pink pumpkins this year and were pleasantly surprised with their color and weight of this pumpkin.

Garden Science

This ear of corn had a number of kernels sprout and start to grow new corn. Why? Well if the ears of corn didn't "drop" when fully mature moisture gets into the ear of corn and causes this. Drop, in this case, means that it is still attached to the stalk but instead of the plant holding the ear in the upright position, the ear of corn now faces the ground instead of the sun.

This ear of corn had a number of kernels sprout and start to grow new corn. Why? Well if the ears of corn didn’t “drop” when fully mature moisture gets into the ear of corn and causes this to occur. “Drop,” in this case, means that the ear of corn is still attached to the stalk but instead of the plant holding the ear in the upright position, the ear of corn now faces the ground instead of the sun.

 

If you look really closely, you will see small dots on these kernels of corn. The dots are where the silk or the female part of the plant attached to the baby kernel of corn. In other words you could think of it like a belly button.

If you look really closely, you will see small dots on these kernels of corn. The dots are where the silk or the female part of the plant attached to the baby kernel of corn. In other words you could think of it like a belly button. The connection of the female part of the corn, silk, to the baby kernel.

These kernels had a unique curve pattern going around the cob of the plant. Beautiful color as well!

These kernels had a unique curve pattern going around the cob of the plant. Beautiful color as well!

 

Recipe of the Week

Lefse is a family favorite and is part of my family heritage, a cultural food from Scandinavia. I remember making lefse throughout my life and love sharing this with our boys. I am thankful that I have a husband that also loves this food.

After all of our hard work, there were a few potatoes that were stabbed by the potato fork. I used those potatoes to mix up some lefse. On Sunday, afternoon we brought out the lefse grills. The boys couldn't wait!

After all of our hard work, there were a few potatoes that were stabbed by the potato fork. I used those potatoes to mix up some lefse. On Sunday, afternoon we brought out the lefse grills. The boys couldn’t wait! This is a family tradition on my side that we are excited to pass down to the next generation!

Lefse

Dash of salt

4 cups of cooked potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup cream

1 Tablespoon sugar

Mash together the above ingredients. Place in refrigerator to cool for at least 4 hours to 24 hours. When cool add 3/4 cup flour to every 1 cup potatoes. As potatoes get colder use less flour. Mix together and form into logs. Cut each potato log into 4-5 pieces. Roll out like a pie crust to about 1/4 inch or thinner. Fry on grill heated for 425-500 degrees. Lefse will look similar to a quesadilla. Spread with butter and sugar and roll up. Enjoy!

Potato lefse begins with mashed potatoes mixed with butter, cream and sugar. We use our "misfit" potatoes. Potatoes that were odd shapes, really small or that we stabbed with the potato fork while digging.

Potato lefse begins with mashed potatoes mixed with butter, cream and sugar. We use our “misfit” potatoes. Potatoes that were odd shapes, really small or that we stabbed with the potato fork while digging.

After mixing together the cold potato mix and the flour, the mixture is shaped into logs and cut into about 5 pieces.

After mixing together the cold potato mix and the flour, the mixture is shaped into logs and cut into about 5 pieces.

The balls of potatoes are shapped into circles and rolled out until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

The balls of potatoes are flattened out, shaped into circles and rolled out until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

Using a lefse stick, they are then gently rolled out onto a lefse grill. We have two grills. One of our grills is my Grandma Rialson's.

Using a lefse stick, they are then gently lifted from the pastry cloth and rolled out onto a lefse grill. We have two grills. One of our grills is my Grandma’s.

Our lefse sticks also hold meaning. Some are from my Grandma Railson. Keith noticed Grandma's signature on his. Some Steve has made and another is from a family friend. The sticks are used to gently pat bubbles out of the lefse as it is cooked and then used to flip the lefse over to grill each side until light brown spots form. Once cooked on both sides the lefse is placed between a couple kitchen towels and wrapped up to prevent the edges from drying. When all the lefse is cooked, the stack of lefse is quite high!

Our lefse sticks also hold meaning. Some are from my Grandma. Keith noticed Grandma’s signature on his. Steve has also made a few and another is from a family friend. The sticks are used to gently pat bubbles out of the lefse as it is cooked and then used to flip the lefse over to grill each side until light brown spots form. Once cooked on both sides the lefse is placed between a couple of kitchen towels and wrapped up to prevent the edges from drying. When all the lefse is cooked, the stack of lefse is quite high!

Making lefse does take some skill. This is how proud Sam was after flipping his lefse on the grill. The biggest reward ... the awesome taste of fresh lefse with butter and sugar on it and rolled up. We love it!

Making lefse does take some skill. This is how proud Sam was after flipping his lefse on the grill. The biggest reward … the awesome taste of fresh lefse with butter and sugar on it and rolled up. We love it! We then package it up into Ziplock bags and freeze. Thaw out as needed and enjoy!

Nearing the End

Nearing the End

We started the great potato dig this weekend. It is always fun to find the large treasurers hidden under the ground.

We started the great potato dig this weekend. It is always fun to find the large treasurers hidden under the ground.

The season is nearing the end, and Mother Nature reminded us of that today. The boys said that the only way they would warm up is if I put them in the clothes dryer! Now the thought of that made me chuckle! Yes indeed it went from the 70s yesterday to feeling like 40 degrees tonight. We received 4/10 of an inch of rain today. Thankful it wasn’t snow!

Look for fall decorative items next week. It will be a busy weekend of harvesting them, but it is always fun to see what is unveiled!

Boxes of Produce

Reminder – there will be two more weeks of the CSA boxes. This is longer than your contract stated due to the interesting growing season!

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. 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.

Salad Mix – A break this week due to the dry weather we had in early August, this crop did not grow when I planted it. But good news, the next round of lettuce and spinach did grow, and we should have some back in your boxes next week.

Beets – Taking a break from this vegetable to allow them to grow more. Don’t worry, we will empty the garden out before the last box.

Carrots – A few carrots this week. We hope that the remainder of the crop grows well before the end of the growing season.

Green Beans  – This is our last crop of beans – hope you have been freezing or canning them if you haven’t been able to use them.

Broccoli I think I need to give this recipe a try from Pioneer Woman.

Cucumbers – This very likely may be your last cucumbers of the season.

Kohlrabi – Here are some ideas from Martha Stewart.

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big Mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) and cherry tomatoes – Let us know if you need some tomatoes for canning. We ask for canning amounts that you give a free will donation.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple) – We pulled this crop this weekend and are drying the remaining onions.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Kennebec potatoes – great for baked potatoes. Masquarde Potatoes –  A tasty potato that everyone in our house is excited to eat.

Your choice of Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

Your choice of Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

Butternut SquashChoice of squash – For those of you that chose this squash, it is one of my favorites. Here is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Spaghetti Squash – Choice of squash – here are different ways to cook it: by boiling or by roasting. Here is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Sweet CornThe last crop of sweet corn is being harvested. Thank you to FarGaze Farms for this partnership in growing the sweet corn. Enjoy!

Enjoy your eggs from the chickens our boys are beyond excited to care for.

Enjoy your eggs from the chickens our boys are beyond excited to care for.  The boys enjoy sharing eggs with their grandparents. My parents both grew up collecting eggs on their home farms.

Eggs – Enjoy some eggs from the Harner Brothers’ chickens.

Fresh Arrangement – Zinnia, Rudbeckia or Sunflowers – Here are a few tips to try to keep your fresh-cut flowers fresh longer. Please provide me feedback if you transfer them to a vase or keep them on your counter in the container you bring them home in.

 

Garden Science

An update on the pumpkins. The Big Moon pumpkins appear to be slowing down in growth. The large one measured 41" and the smaller ones 35" from side to side. We plant to provide more manure and fertilizer to next year's big pumpkin patch.

An update on the pumpkins. The Big Moon pumpkins appear to be slowing down in growth. The large one measured 41″ and the smaller ones 35″ from side to side. We plan to incorporate more manure to fertilizer next year’s big pumpkin patch.

Recipe of the Week

Many of you wonder what we do with all of these tomatoes. Well, we do quite a bit of canning. We were fortunate to receive Steve’s Grandpa and Grandma’s canning supplies when they decided to hang up that past time. Steve grew up canning many vegetables with his family. I on the other hand loathed canning but enjoyed baking!! Now, canning has become quality time with the family and satisfaction of tasty vegetables throughout the year. We highly recommend that you use the University of Minnesota Extension Services’ directions for canning tomatoes. At the end of the season from our tomatoes, we will have about 70 quarts of tomato juice and about 50 pints of salsa. In addition, I will have some tomatoes in the freezer for chilli and soups this winter.

Tomato Sauce

We wash the tomatoes and cut out the core and any bad spots. Then cut them into quarters.

The first thing to do is sanitize your jars and rings. Next, wash the tomatoes and cut out the core and any bad spots. Then cut them into quarters. We use all varieties of tomatoes and feel that the variety enhances the flavor.

 

Next they go into the juicer and are pushed through separating out the skin and seeds from the juice.

Next they go into the juicer and are pushed through separating out the skin and seeds from the juice.

This machine came from Steve's grandparents. Whenever we take it out and brings a smile to our face, and we know that they are smiling down on this whole process.

This machine came from Steve’s grandparents. Whenever we take it out and brings a smile to our faces. We know that they are smiling down on this whole process and getting a chuckle out of the boys’ curiosity.

The juice is then brought to a slow boil in this awesome huge pot that we received for a wedding gift.

The juice is then brought to a slow boil in this awesome huge pot that we received for a wedding gift.

Using sanitized canning jars, we place 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and fill the jars up to the neck of the jar with the juice. Then we wipe the top of the jar off with a clean cloth. After boiling the lids for 3 minutes, we use a magnetic stick to take them out of the water and place on top of the jar.

Using sanitized canning jars, we place 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into each quart jar and fill the jars to right below the neck of the jar with the juice. Then we wipe the top of the jar off with a clean cloth. After boiling the lids for 3 minutes, we use a magnetic stick to take them out of the water and place on top of the jar.

Sanitize your canning jar rings. Then place on top of the lid and tighten.

Sanitize your canning jar rings. Then place on top of the lid and tighten.

Steve is in charge of the pressure cooker and finalizing the canning process. Please see the link above to the Extension Services directions to canning tomatoes. This is what we follow. Steve also makes a call to his Mom every year for a refresher course.

Steve is in charge of the pressure cooker and finalizing the canning process. On the left is the awesome pot I mentioned that we use to bring the tomato juice to a boil. On the right is the pressure cooker. Please see the link above to the Extension Services’ directions to canning tomatoes. This is what we follow. Steve also makes a call to his Mom every year for a refresher course and a good visit.

After the tomatoes come out of the canner, you begin to hear the lids "pop" or seal. It is music to our ears. We then use this tomato juice as our base for spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. My dad enjoys drinking the tomato juice as well.

After the jars of tomato juice come out of the canner, they are placed on kitchen towels leaving about an inch or so of cooling space around them. You should begin to hear the lids “pop” or seal. It is music to our ears. After a day, I label the top of the lid with the date, and what is in the jar. We then use this tomato juice throughout the year as our base for spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. For the sauces, we combine the juice, tomato paste, onions, garlic and herbs to taste. You may also enjoy it just as tomato juice – it is one of my Dad’s garden favorites.

Lessons Learned Passed and Present

Lessons Learned Passed and Present

Have you met the new additions to our place? The boys would love to show you Speedy and Warrior.

Have you met the new additions to our place? The boys would love to show you Speedy and Warrior.

Lessons learned and applied today are from both our past and our present. This past weekend as we helped my dad with his restored Allis Chalmers it was easy to reflect on what I learned from both my grandparents who were farmers, what I learned from my dad who is a farmer and what we are trying to teach our children. Our children are applying what they are learning by sharing their knowledge about agriculture with their friends and teachers, and this past week Keith was sharing his knowledge at the Minnesota Farm Bureau booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

This weekend was my hometown celebration. My dad has restored 10 Allis Chalmers tractors. Every year, we help him bring the tractors in for display. I had the privilege of driving my Grandpa's WD45 that dad restored. It was a relaxing view into town.

This weekend was my hometown celebration. My dad has restored 10 Allis Chalmers tractors. Every year, we help him bring the tractors in for display. I had the privilege of driving my Grandpa’s WD45 that dad restored. It was a relaxing view into town.

If you have a question about agriculture, please feel free to ask us. If we don’t know, we can connect you with a farmer or a professional in agriculture that would be able to answer your questions.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”  ― Marie Curie

The past few weeks have also been a busy time preparing for the state fair. Keith shared his farm story while working at the Farm Bureau building. Thanks to all who stopped by.

The past few weeks have also been a busy time preparing for the state fair. Keith shared his farm story while working at the Farm Bureau building. Thanks to all who stopped by.

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. Sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Preparing your boxes of produce.

Preparing your boxes of produce.

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

Salad Mix – A mixture of Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf. The lettuce I planted a few weeks ago is growing. I am hoping to harvest this next week.

Beets – The whole plant is edible.

Green Beans  – This is a new crop of beans.

Broccoli Great to enjoy in your salads or cooked with some cheese sprinkled over it.

Carrots – Finally some growing conditions to produce some carrots!

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are in the gourd family Cucurbitacae. There are three main varieties of cucumbers: slicing, pickling and burpless.

Cucumbers – Nearing the end of this season

Peppers – Jalapeno peppers and Bell Peppers

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) – Let us know if you need some tomatoes for canning. We ask that for canning amounts that you give a free will donation. Here are some salsa ideas from Taste of Home.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple)

Midnight Moon Potatoes

Midnight Moon Potatoes – potatoes grow under the ground. It is not a root, but rather it is called a tuber.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Midnight Moon – a fun new variety this year, purple on the outside and white on the inside. Are you wondering more about the nutrition of these colored varieties? Check this handbook out.

Butternut SquashChoice of squash tonight. For those of you that chose this squash, it is one of my favorites. Here are a few recipes from Martha Stewart.

Spaghetti SquashEnjoy this as spaghetti. Here are different ways to cook it: by boiling or by roasting.

Sweet CornThe next crop should be ready next week.

Flowers for you this week.

Flowers for you this week.

Fresh Arrangement – Zinnia, Rudbeckia or Sunflowers – Here are a few tips to try to keep your fresh-cut flowers fresh longer. I have tried the bleach trick, and it has worked for me.

Garden Science

Did you know that we gather the rain water from our shop roof into this water tank to irrigate the mulched areas in our garden. We use gravity to flow the water into the irrigation lines. The rains filled the tank up!

Did you know that we gather the rain water from our shop roof into this water tank to irrigate the mulched areas in our garden. We use gravity to flow the water into the irrigation lines. The rains filled the tank up!

 

Recipe of the Week

Pumpkin Bread is a favorite. I use butternut squash that I have cooked and frozen as my "pumpkin" in this recipe. It works great!

Pumpkin Bread is a favorite. I use butternut squash that I have cooked and frozen as my “pumpkin” in this recipe. It works great!

Pumpkin Bread

1 2/3 cup flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cold water

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash

Combine flour, sugar, butter, soda, spices and salt in bowl. Add 1/3 cup cold water, eggs, and pumpkin (squash) mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool on wire rack.

Source: Pat Kuznik – West Polk County: Blue Ribbon Favorites Minnesota 4-H Foundation

 

Combine: 1 2/3 cup flour; 1 1/2 cup sugar; 1/3 cup butter softened; 1 teaspoon soda; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg;  1/4 teaspoon cloves;  and a pinch of salt.

Combine: 1 2/3 cup flour; 1 1/2 cup sugar;
1/3 cup butter softened; 1 teaspoon soda; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg;
1/4 teaspoon cloves;
and a pinch of salt.

Next add and mix into dry ingredients: 1/3 cup cold water;  2 eggs; 1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash). Place into loaf pan or into cupcakes tin.

Next add and mix into dry ingredients: 1/3 cup cold water;
2 eggs; 1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash). Place into loaf pan or into muffin tin.

Place batter in muffin liners that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake muffins for about 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Place batter in muffin liners that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake muffins for about 12 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

Mother Nature keeps us on our Toes

Mother Nature keeps us on our Toes

 

Tomatoes are maturing like crazy - all shapes and colors. Let us know if you are interested in buying any for canning. Enjoy!

Tomatoes are maturing like crazy – all shapes and colors. Let us know if you are interested in buying any for canning. Enjoy!

As many of us prepare for school to begin, we are preparing for the growing season to come to an end before we know it. Mother Nature keeps us on our toes, and we must be prepared for what will occur. While some of the produce is hitting their peak. Others are on the decline, and we are starting to see “gaps” in the field as we clean-up and feed garden scraps to the chickens.

You also may be wondering, when is our last box? We are anticipating that the last box will be the last week of September. Which will be slightly longer then what your contract stated, simply because of the growing season, and how the crops worked out. We will keep you posted as we proceed through September.

We are busy with garden clean-up pulling up old vegetables that are no longer producing and feeding them to the chickens.

We are busy with garden clean-up pulling up old vegetables that are no longer producing and feeding them to the chickens.

Part of the garden clean-up includes driving the lawn tractor. Keith enjoys this task.

Part of the garden clean-up includes driving the lawn tractor. It makes this task a lot easier!

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. 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.

Sweet Corn – Yeah for sweet corn! Thank you to FarGaze Farms, our neighbors, for providing the sweet corn for your boxes this week. We hope you all enjoy it. We appreciate this partnership!

Salad Mix – A mixture of Black Seeded Simpson, Red Oak Leaf, beet greens and spinach. Here are a few salad ideas. I planted a new crop of lettuce about 5 weeks ago and very little grew because we had such a dry July. After the rain last week, I planted another round and four days later the seeds have germinated and are peeking out of the ground. I am hoping for a new crop of the lettuces in the near future.

Beets – The whole plant is edible.

Green Beans  – We are at the end of this crop and should have a small crop towards the end of the season.

Broccoli Great to enjoy in your salads or cooked with some cheese sprinkled over it.

Cucumbers – Nearing the end of this season as well.

PeppersJalepeno peppers – see how peppers are grown in America.

Tomatoes Baby Boomer cherry tomatoes, Big mamma, Sunny Boy (yellow), Honey Delight (small yellow) and Fourth of July  (medium red) – Learn more about tomatoes are grown across the U.S. on America’s Heartland.

Onions – Walla Walla, Snow White, yellow Candy and Giant Red Hamburger (purple)

The Purple Majesty potatoes need to be dug during the daylight. They blend right in with chunks of dirt.

The Purple Majesty potatoes need to be dug during the daylight. They blend right in with chunks of soil.

PotatoesRed Pontiac  – the link is to more potato basics and recipe ideas. Purple Majesty potatoes – fun as French fries or mashed potatoes.

Butternut Squash – Choice of squash tonight. For those of you that chose this squash, it is one of my favorites. Here are a few recipes from Martha Stewart.

Spaghetti Squash – Enjoy this as spaghetti. Here are different ways to cook it: by boiling or by roasting.

Fresh Arrangement – Zinnia or Sunflowers – Here are a few tips to try to keep your fresh-cut flowers fresh longer. I have tried the bleach trick, and it has worked for me.

Garden Science

We found cabbage loopers this weekend. Check out how small this one is compared to the thumb.

We found cabbage loopers this weekend. Check out how small this one is compared to the thumb.

We found a larger cabbage looper.

We found a larger cabbage looper.

This cabbage is being eaten by the cabbage looper but the boys want to see how many cabbage heads this one forms during the growing season.

This cabbage is being eaten by the cabbage looper but the boys want to see how many cabbage heads this one forms during the growing season.

Insects, insects every where including this green tomato worm.

Insects, insects every where including this green tomato worm.

The Red Pontiac potatoes were huge. These three were from the same plant.

The Red Pontiac potatoes were huge. These three were from the same plant.

Recipe of the Week

I thought you would like to know what I do with all of the produce. See the links below the recipes and photo how to enjoy your produce throughout the year.

Lettuce and Spinach – I enjoy a variety of salads. Give Lazy Tacos a try – super easy and delicious.

Green Beans – I freeze or can my green beans.

Sweet Corn – I keep freezing sweet corn simple. I don’t have time for a lot of preparation so keeping it simple is my style. Here is Martha Stewarts tips on preserving corn.

Onions – I have had the best luck chopping and freezing onions to be used in recipes throughout the year. Less mess and more time efficient.

Butternut Squash – I cook and freeze the squash to be used in smaller portions and perfect substitute for a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Give these Squash/Pumpkin Donut Drops a try – fun for a long weekend.

Potatoes – I enjoy making into Lefse and Potato Bread.

Tomatoes – We plan to can some tomato juice and salsa this fall.

 

 

 

 

Cold Weather Preparations

Cold Weather Preparations

 With this last week's morning temperatures in the mid to early 20s, we feel really good to have most of the fall work completed. The feeling of satisfaction is a great feeling.


With this last week’s morning temperatures in the mid to early 20s, we feel really good to have most of the fall work completed. The feeling of satisfaction is a great feeling.

Harvesting

We harvested the last of the popcorn - the blue and the white popcorn. The ears were so high up on the corn that Sam could not reach them. He had to stand in his Red Flyer wagon to reach them to harvest.

We harvested the last of the popcorn – the blue and the white popcorn. It was a good harvest. A surprise we did not expect this kind of yield. Looking forward to shelling the popcorn this week.

Keith was tall enough to reach the ears to harvest the popcorn. But, the ears were so high up on the corn that Sam could not reach them. He had to stand in his Red Flyer wagon to reach them to harvest. We told the boys that this is the way their Grandpa used to have to  harvest an entire field of corn when he was a kid. They were more then happy to sit in Grandpa's combine and compare the difference. Mechanization is a great thing!

Keith was tall enough to reach the ears to harvest the popcorn. But, the ears were so high up on the corn that Sam could not reach them. He had to stand in his Red Flyer wagon to reach them to harvest. We told the boys that this is the way their Grandpa used to have to harvest an entire field of corn when he was a kid. They were more than happy to have the opportunity to ride in Grandpa’s combine and compare the difference. Mechanization is a great thing! It not only makes the jobs easier and more enjoyable but it also improves efficiencies to grow more food for more people to decrease on starvation that would otherwise occur.

The popcorn ears were beautiful and did have some cross pollination between the varieties meaning some of the blue popcorn had a few white kernels and some of the white popcorn ears had a few blue kernels. We plan to shell it this week.

The popcorn ears were beautiful and did have some cross-pollination between the varieties. This means that some of the blue popcorn had a few white kernels and some of the white popcorn ears had a few blue kernels.

After harvesting the popcorn, Sam wanted to take the lead in cutting down the stalks.

After harvesting the popcorn, Sam wanted to take the lead in cutting down the stalks.

He completed this task of cutting all of the popcorn stalks down by himself. To say he was exhausted and proud would be an understatement.

He completed this task of cutting all of the popcorn stalks down by himself. To say he was exhausted and proud would be an understatement.

Keith assisted Steve with the shredding. Keith has been a real trooper with this project. It can be fun when you get to shred "cool" stuff like tomatoes, kohlrabi, carrots etc. But it can be a laborious job.

Keith assisted Steve with the shredding. Keith has been a real trooper with this project. It can be fun when you get to shred “cool” stuff like tomatoes, kohlrabi, carrots etc. But it can be a laborious job.

Sam is my awesome tomato harvester. Before our first frost was expected, Sam and I were out harvesting as many tomatoes as we could find. This including using a head lamp for a light. I wish I could have gotten a great photo of him wearing his lightening McQueen headlamp.

Sam is my awesome tomato harvester. Before our first frost was expected, Sam and I were out harvesting as many tomatoes as we could find. This included using a head lamp for a light. I wish I could have gotten a great photo of him wearing his Lightening McQueen headlamp. Keith and Steve did get home to help with the end of this project as well.

We also had a small test plot of sweet potatoes. We tried growing them last year, and it did not work. This year some grew, but we will be lucky to get one meal out of what was produced.

We also had a small test plot of sweet potatoes. We tried growing them last year, and it did not work. This year some grew, but we will be lucky to get one meal out of what was produced.

So one of our science experiments includes seeing how many of the green tomatoes ripen. We have put them in a box with some newspaper. Sam wanted to close a few boxes with just a little bit of air flow and the others are open.

Sam wanted to close a few boxes with just a little bit of air flow and the others are open. We then placed them in the basement, and the waiting begins.

Sam wanted to close a few boxes with just a little bit of air flow, and the others are open to see if this makes a difference in how the tomatoes ripen. We then placed them in the basement, and the waiting begins.

Another science experiment was to place a floating row cover on top of some of the cold season crops: lettuce varieties, spinach, carrots, radishes and also beets. We wanted to see how it would protect the crops, how cold it can get both outside of the cover and underneath the cover before the crops will die.

Another science experiment was to place a floating row cover on top of some of the cold season crops: lettuce varieties, spinach, carrots, radishes and also beets. We want to see how it will protect the crops, and how cold it can get both outside of the cover and underneath the cover before the crops will die.

Recipe of the Week

Sam and I made this recipe this week. I double the recipe and put half of the dough in the freezer to bake another week. Definitely improves my efficiencies as a mom. I also love baking with the kids. A great way to talk about where the ingredients come from, and who we know that grows those crops.  We used our squash and homemade applesauce in this recipe. I was so busy mixing and making sure that the flour wasn’t flying across the kitchen and simply having fun with him that I neglected to take photos…another time.

It also is a great way to discuss fractions and numbers. After we were done mixing the muffin batter, I gave Sam a tub, water and the mixing cups and measuring spoons, and we played in the water learning about the fractions and what they meant.

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 – 16 ounce can pumpkin (squash)

1 1/2 cups applesauce

3 cups flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Time: 16-20 minutes

In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and applesauce until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake until they test done. Cool in pan for about  minutes before removing to wire rack.

Source: Debbie Sundquist from Prayers for Parker Cookbook

Garden Clean-Up

Garden Clean-Up

With the weather changing and getting colder, we have worked hard to clean out the  garden. We also wanted to complete as much work as possible before the weather turned colder, and before it rained. We were fortunate to receive 1 3/10″ of rain this past week.

As we were working late last Wednesday night, I said to the kids, “Look, do you see our neighbors are out working late to get the crops in and doing field work because everyone is racing the weather?”

Keith quickly replied, “Yeah, but we are the only ones doing it by hand.”

I had to laugh at how quick-witted he was on his response, and I reminded him of our goals to get more equipment to improve the process…which also meant keep your sleeves rolled up and work hard. If you want something, you have to work for it:)

Garden Science

As we cleaned up the garden, some of the produce that was passed its prime was fed to the chickens. They absolutely love this!

As we cleaned up the garden, some of the produce that was passed its prime was fed to the chickens. They absolutely love this!

Keith's first time having the responsibility to drive the lawn tractor to move supplies after pulling up the mulch and stakes etc.

Keith’s first time having the responsibility to drive the lawn tractor to move supplies after pulling up the mulch and stakes etc. Can you tell, he was a little over joyed at this new privilege and responsibility.

We shed as many of the plants as possible to break them down faster, and they become green manure. The kids have been given safety instructions and wear ear protection, and we also encourage eye protection as well.

We shed the plants to break them down faster so they become nutrients for the soil. The kids have been given strict safety instructions and wear ear and eye protection. It definitely is no surprise, that if you have a cool, fun tool the boys are definitely more interested in the project.

Keith wanted to shred his giant kohlrabi experiment. They think it is so cool to shred the different vegetables.

Keith wanted to shred his giant kohlrabi experiment. It was funny to see that the main kohlrabi grew about four baby kohlrabi on the original plant. They think it is so cool to shred the different vegetables.

While all of this is going on, Sam makes sure to take time to tame the kittens and bring them down to see what is going on.

While all of this is going on, Sam makes sure to take time to tame the kittens and bring them down to see what is going on.

The shredded materials were tilled in and a seed bed was prepared for some additional green manure.

The shredded materials were tilled in and a seed bed was prepared so that we could plant a cover crop.

This year we planted rye grass and tillage radishes. We hope that the rye grass will provide some good nutrients as it grows this fall and then again in the spring and that the radishes will provide some need aeriation in the soil. We are also curious to see if any of this assists with insect control (potato bugs) as well. In the end that all of this will provide better plant health and better plant production next growing season. Pictured is Keith showing the rye seed.

This year we planted rye grass and tillage radishes. We hope that the rye grass will provide some good nutrients as it grows this fall and then again in the spring and that the radishes will provide some needed aeration to the soil. We are also curious to see if any of this assists with insect control (ex. potato bugs) as well. In the end, we hope the results will provide better plant health and better plant production next growing season. Pictured is Keith showing the rye seed.

So after the seed was sowed, Keith was very excited to be given the responsibility of dragging the ground to incorporate the seed.

So after the seed was sown, Keith was very excited to be given the responsibility of dragging the ground to incorporate the seed.

Sam checked to see if any of the Marigolds he planted made it through the tilling and dragging. He was happy to see that indeed one did!

Sam checked to see if any of the Marigolds he planted made it through the tilling and dragging. He was happy to see that indeed one did! We believe we will have quite a few Marigolds growing on their own next spring – maybe this will draw in beneficial insects earlier to eat potato bug larva.

We have also been checking the progress of the popcorn. These windy fall days have helped the ears of corn to dry down. We are hoping to shell them at the end of the month.

We have also been checking the progress of the popcorn. These windy fall days have helped the ears of corn to dry down. We are hoping to shell them at the end of the month.

Recipe of the Week

When I was in 4-H, one of my foods project was a pie crust. So that summer, I tried countless numbers of pie crust recipes. This is the pie crust that passed the tests of my brothers, my parents and my Grandpa. My poor family had to try so many different recipes over the years. At least I had extremely honest brothers (sometimes to honest) and a very frank Grandpa to let me know what they really thought of the recipes.

One of my fondest memories was my deal I made with my Grandpa to be an official taste tester for my 4-H foods projects. My Grandma had passed away before I was born and so this provided Grandpa with fresh baked goods on a regular basis and was frankly a fun way to connect with him. I told him I wanted to win blues if not purples on the 4-H foods projects, and I needed him to be very honest with me and very specific about what he did or did not like about recipes.  He didn’t let me down. Over the years, together with my families help and Grandpa’s frankness we were able to accomplish quite a bit of success and some good memories along the way.

Pie Crust

2 cups flour

1 cup Crisco

2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup milk

Cut together flour, Crisco, sugar and salt. Then mix in with fork milk and egg yolk. May be stored several days in fridge. When pie is all assembled brush top of crust with milk to make golden brown. Cover outside edges with aluminum foil, remove with 5-10 minutes left in baking time. This will prevent crust from burning.

Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from the back of the Festal pumpkin can.

15 oz of pumpkin or frozen squash

1 pie crust (see above)

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup granulated sugar or light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon EACH of cloves, nutmeg and ginger

1 cup milk or evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 1 pie curst. Combine eggs, sugar, salt and spices and beat well. blend in pumpkin or squash, add milk and beat well. Pour into pastry lined pie pan. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes. Pie is done when knife, inserted in center, comes out clean.

Divide your dough into two balls. Place one ball of dough on a floured pastry cloth. Flatten your ball out with your side of your hand, pressing down on it 3 times each way. Basically looks like tic-tac-toe. Roll out into a circle.

Divide your dough into two balls. Place one ball of dough on a floured pastry cloth. Flatten your ball out with your side of your hand, pressing down on it 3 times each way. Basically looks like tic-tac-toe. Roll out into a circle.

To place into your pie plate, using your rolling pin, start on one side of your dough and gently roll it around your rolling pin. Place it over your pie plate and unroll it over your pie plate. Roll your crust's edge under to make your crust. I made the fluted edge by pressing my thumb against my pointer finger when my hand was in the shape of a fist.

To place into your pie plate, using your rolling pin, start on one side of your dough and gently roll it around your rolling pin. Place it over your pie plate and unroll it over your pie plate. Roll your crust’s edge under to make your crust. I made the fluted edge by pressing my thumb against my pointer finger when my hand was in the shape of a fist.

After your pie filling is mixed together, pour it into your pie pan.

After your pie filling is mixed together, pour it into your pie pan.

Cover the crust of your pie with aluminum foil so the crust does not burn. Place in the oven. Sometimes I remove the foil with about 10 minutes left in the baking and sometimes I remove it after I have taken the pie out of the oven. Just depends on how the pie is baking that day.

Cover the crust of your pie with aluminum foil so the crust does not burn. Place in the oven. Sometimes I remove the foil with about 10 minutes left in the baking and sometimes I remove it after I have taken the pie out of the oven. Just depends on how the pie is baking that day.

Enjoy the pie with some whipped topping! Happy Baking!

Enjoy the pie with some whipped topping! Happy Baking!

Harvest Feast

Harvest Feast

This past week, we have pushed real hard to clean out the garden: finish harvesting, take the trellis' down and put away, mulch the plants and till the garden.  The boys were great help. Keith received a promotion of sorts and was given his first jack knife and helped cut string. He was very excited about this new found responsibility.

This past week, we have pushed real hard to clean out the garden. We worked to finish harvesting certain vegetables, take the trellis’ down and put away, mulch the plants and till the garden. The boys were great help. Keith received a promotion of sorts and was given his first jack-knife and helped cut string. He was very excited about this new-found responsibility.

As we gathered around the table tonight, we discussed what we liked most out of our garden. Answers ranged from popcorn to potatoes and squash to lettuce and onions to sugar snap peas and green beans. The good news is for the most part we are growing what we enjoy eating, and we hope that we are also growing what all of you enjoy as well. The surveys indicate that we are. Thank you to everyone who has returned the year-end surveys. Your feedback is extremely valuable input to ensure that we are providing what your families enjoy eating.

We also discussed our family harvest feast. I have decided that this weekend we need to have a family feast containing items grown in the garden. The boys deserve something fun to celebrate all of their hard work, and what kid doesn’t like a “party.” I don’t know that it will be quite the well-balanced meal I usually serve, but it should be fun. Their ideas for food included pumpkin pie, lefse and onion rings. I will let you know how it goes.

Even thought we still have popcorn to deliver to all of you in the upcoming weeks, it is fitting to say a big THANK YOU to all of you from all of us. We have greatly enjoyed working with you and for you and sincerely appreciate the trust you have put in us to provide your family with fresh produce. We really do enjoy our visits with you and the opportunity to see everyone learning from this opportunity.

Garden Science

We harvested the strawberry popcorn this weekend. It appeared the raccoons were starting to enjoy it.

We harvested the strawberry popcorn this weekend. It appeared the raccoons were starting to enjoy it.

We husked the white popcorn and decided it to along with the blue popcorn needs to dry down some more. Interesting to note that the ears are so much larger then the strawberry popcorn. Also,the blue popcorn was able to catch up in plant height even after being planted about a month later then the other varities of popcorn. Also, the blue popcorn had pollination challenges due in part by the weather. By pollination issues, I mean that the ear of corn is not filled out with kernels. Learn more here about corn pollinations.

We husked the white popcorn and decided it along with the blue popcorn need to dry down some more. Interesting to note that the ears are so much larger than the strawberry popcorn. Also, the blue popcorn was able to catch up in plant height even after being planted about a month later than the other varieties of popcorn. Also, the blue popcorn had pollination challenges due in part by the weather. By pollination issues, I mean that the ear of corn is not filled out with kernels.

Learn more about corn pollination here. It really is quite interesting!

Boxes of Produce

All the potatoes are dug! I always find this to be a treasurer hunt. You never know how many potatoes you will find or what size they will be. To me, it simply is one of the most exciting parts of gardening. So excited to find the Masquarde potates.

All the potatoes are dug! I always find this to be a treasurer hunt. You never know how many potatoes you will find or what size they will be. To me, it simply is one of the most exciting parts of gardening. So excited to find the Masquerade potatoes.

Reminder please return any cups or plastic containers and your box. We will connect with you when the popcorn is ready. You can either return it before then or at that time. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your produce before eating. Please fill out and return year-end survey which was sent to you via email this weekend. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Black Seeded Simpson Elite Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops. Quick fact video about lettuce from America’s Heartland.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Beet leaves – Some young beets are available.

Spinach – a taste for you. It finally grew this year! I think it was our fourth try.

Tomatoes – Fourth of July (medium size red), Black Krim, Big Boy, Brandywine and super sweet cherry tomatoes 100. Check out how tomatoes are grown hydroponically.

Peppers – They are plentiful this year. Here are a few recipe ideas.

Onions – A few fresh onions to put in a recipe here or there. I think we will give one of these recipes a try for homemade onion rings. An interesting video on onion harvest in Idaho and food safety.

Green Beans – Enjoy the Providers – 1/2 of you received them last week and 1/2 this week.

Sugar Snap Peas – 1/2 of you received them last week and 1/2 this week. Did you know that Minnesota is the largest grower of peas for processing – producing more than any other U.S. state each year?

Potatoes – This week’s box contains Yukon Gold, Masquerade, blue potatoes and Norlands (red potato).

Butternut or Carnival Squash – Butternut is a favorite for many. Carnival is a decorative, gourd like squash with a nutty flavor. It is a hybrid of Sweet Dumpling and an Acorn squash and has a shelf-life of up to three to four months. See recipe below as another way to use this vegetable.

Herbs – Cilantro, parsley, golden oregano and rosemary. Don’t forget to wash and freeze these in ice-cube trays – great for soups later this winter.

Fresh cut arrangement –  Sedum, Enjoy these as a fresh or dry arrangement. Something most of you may have in your garden, but more than likely don’t take the time to bring them inside. Hope they bring a smile to your face.

Recipe of the Week

This is a favorite in our house. Super easy to make and super moist bread. Enjoy!

State Fair Pumpkin Bread

Begin by combining the dry ingredients: 1 2/3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, softened, 1 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves and a pinch of salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin recipe by combining the dry ingredients: 1 2/3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, softened, 1 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves and a pinch of salt.

Next, I have already thawed out some of my frozen squash.

Next, I have already thawed out some of my frozen squash.

Add: 2 eggs,  1 cup canned pumpkin/squash, and 1/3 cup cold water. Mix.

Add: 2 eggs,
1 cup canned pumpkin/squash, and 1/3 cup cold water. Mix.

Simply love using the variety of eggs from our chickens. Did you know that hens (female chickens), once mature about 4 months old, will lay about one egg every 24-26 hours. They will begin by laying smaller eggs. As they grow older, they molt (lose feather). During the molting period their body rests. And then they grow their feathers back and begin laying again. Laying a larger egg then they did before. This is a cycle and how we get peewee, small, medium, large, extra large and jumbo sized eggs.

Simply love using the variety of eggs from our chickens. Did you know that hens (female chickens), once mature about 4-5 months old, will lay about one egg every 24-26 hours. They will begin by laying smaller eggs. As they grow older, they molt (lose feathers). During the molting period, their body rests. And then they grow their feathers back and begin laying again. Laying a larger egg then they did before. This is a cycle, and how we get pee wee, small, medium, large, extra-large and jumbo sized eggs.

I bake mine in smaller loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Take out of the oven. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and tip out onto cooling rack. Enjoy!

I bake mine in smaller loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Take out of the oven. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and tip out onto cooling rack. Enjoy!

State Fair Pumpkin Bread

1 2/3 cups flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin/squash

1/3 cup cold water

Combine flour, sugar, butter, soda, spices and salt in a bowl. Add 1/3 cup cold, eggs and pumpkin; mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Cool on wire rack.

Source: Blue Ribbon Favorites favorite recipes of Minnesota 4-H Families, Pat Kuznik, West Polk County

The boys love this bread. It really is delicious right out of the oven and for a few days after you bake it (if it lasts that long)!

The boys love this bread. It really is delicious right out of the oven and for a few days after you bake it (if it lasts that long)!

Joy of Learning

Joy of Learning

Here is a good reminder of the strange growing season and why CSA members will be receiving a bonus box. This picture was taken at the end of July. Not only was it a wet spring which delayed planting, but it was also a very strange summer, not only dry, but we also had some unusual cold spells, followed by the crazy heat at the end of August. We have been blessed with some rains that finally kicked some of the plants into growing and producing.

Here is a good reminder of the strange growing season and why CSA members will be receiving a bonus box. This picture was taken at the end of July. Not only was it a wet spring which delayed planting, but it was also a very strange summer, not only dry, but we also had some unusual cold spells, followed by the crazy heat at the end of August. We have been blessed with some rains that finally kicked some of the plants into growing and producing.

The joy of learning is contagious. It is so fun for us as parents to see our kids learning in the garden, but even more fun to watch the learning that continues with all of the CSA families.

One of our greatest joys this year has been watching all of the kids learn where and how food grows. It is so fun to see the excitement as potatoes are dug, carrots and radishes pulled out of the ground and eaten on the spot, exploring the different types of corn growing and seeing the enthusiasm and anticipation of red, white and blue popcorn. We truly hope this food journey has been fun for all of you. Providing the joys of the garden for you to enjoy is rewarding for all of us. Thank you for allowing us this privilege!

Next week, we will provide a final bonus box of produce. This odd growing season is allowing us to do so. We have a few items that love this type of growing weather so we want to make sure you are able to enjoy them. Thank you for “weathering” this crazy growing season with us. We truly do appreciate it!

Garden Science

Keith and I thinned out the North row earlier this summer. That row did have thicker stalks and fuller heads of broom corn.

Keith and I thinned out the North row earlier this summer. That row did have thicker stalks and fuller heads of broom corn.

Cutting down the broom corn was a family activity. Perhaps Sam was the best prepared for the falling stalks.

Cutting down the broom corn was a family activity. Perhaps Sam was the best prepared for the falling stalks.

The broom corn measured over 14 feet tall.

The broom corn measured over 14 feet tall. We cut it down to 8 feet to make it more manageable for everyone.

Boxes of Produce

Nothing beats the smiles on your faces when you receive your boxes. It is a great reward for us to see them.

Nothing beats the smiles on your faces when you receive your boxes. It is a great reward for us to see them.

Reminder to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your produce before eating. Look for an end of the year survey in your email this week.

Black Seeded Simpson Elite Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Beet leaves – Some young beets will be available next week.

Tomatoes – Fourth of July (medium size red),  Sunchoola,  Black Krim, Big Boy, Brandywine and super sweet cherry tomatoes 100. Hope you are able to freeze or can for soups or chilli later this winter.

Peppers – They are plentiful this year. We will finish the harvest off next week.

Onions – A few fresh onions to put in a recipe here or there.

Green Beans – Enjoy the Providers.

This week's box contains Yukon Gold, blue potatoes and Norlands (red potato).

This week’s box contains Yukon Gold, blue potatoes and Norlands (red potato).

Potatoes – Yukon Golds, Kennebec potatoes – great for baking; Norland potatoes – great for mashed potatoes; Blue potatoes – try French fries or mashed potatoes – lots of fun!

Butternut or Carnival Squash – Butternut is a favorite for many. Carnival is a decorative, gourd like squash with a nutty flavor. It is a hybrid of Sweet Dumpling and an Acorn squash and has a shelf-life of up to three to four months. Here’s a yummy recipe Pumpkin Donut Holes that I plan to make this weekend.

Herbs – Cilantro, parsley and lemon thyme. Don’t forget to wash and freeze these in ice-cube trays – great for soups later this winter.

Fresh cut arrangement –

  • Broom corn – Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest
  • Ornamental corn – Steve has already put a loop in the string. Simply hang it on a hook or nail. There is some additional left if you would like them for decoration. Check the extras next week.
  • Pumpkins – Enjoy carving one as a family!
We hope you have enjoyed your pumpkins. We certainly had fun growing a variety for all of you this year.

We hope you have enjoyed your pumpkins. We certainly had fun growing a variety for all of you this year.

Recipe of the Week

Homemade Pizza

This has become a family favorite. When Steve and I were first married we tried so many recipes for homemade pizza, and this is definitely our favorite. We usually make it on Friday nights. The crust recipe comes from the Minnesota 4-H Foundation’s Blue Ribbon Favorites recipe book by Jeannie Stangler of Waseca.

Pizza Parlor Crust

1 teaspoon yeast

2 Tablespoons oil

1 Tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk, scalded, cooled

In a bowl, combine yeast, oil, sugar and 1/4 cup very war water. Let the yeast become active. Scald milk (this means you warm it up so that it forms has a slight skin on the top – I heat mine up for slightly more time then I do hot chocolate in the microwave). After yeast mixture has become “active,” add flour, salt and scalded milk. Mix well. Knead slightly (I do this in the bowl. I spray my hands with cooking spray and add a little more flour on the dough when kneading so that it is not super sticky and forms a nice ball of dough. The boys love to do this as well.) Lift up your ball of dough, spray with cooking spray, place dough back into bowl, spray the top of the dough, cover with a wet towel and let rise for 15 minutes to an hour. We bake ours on a clay pan. Sprinkle the pan with corn meal (or spray the pan with cooking spray). Bake at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes or until the crust just starts to turn a little brown. Take out and put your toppings on. Bake for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!!

Toppings:

  • Homemade tomato sauce – here are a few links Ball Canning and U of M Extension. If you want to learn how to do this and feel overwhelmed, I understand. Steve actually taught me. Let me know and we can plan a day to have you come out for a lesson:)
  • Chop up onions and peppers.
  • I freeze leftover hamburgers. Before freezing, I crumble up the hamburger. Before placing on the pizza, I thaw it out. Super easy!
  • Top with mozzarella cheese and any of your favorites.
  • Place pepperoni on top (I love crispy pepperoni).
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Garnish with parsley.
Our homemade tomato sauce begins with washing, cutting out the stems and bad parts and putting them through Steve's Grandparent's juicer. Then canning it. We can only tomato juice and then modify it to whatever we need. I then pull it off the shelf add a can of tomato paste, onions, herbs, garlic if I have some and frozen purred carrots (which have been frozen in an ice cube tray - learned this when making baby food).

Our homemade tomato sauce begins with washing, cutting out the stems and bad parts and putting them through Steve’s Grandparent’s juicer. Then canning it. We can only tomato juice and then modify it to whatever we need. I then pull it off the shelf add a can of tomato paste, onions, herbs, garlic if I have some and frozen purred carrots (which have been frozen in an ice-cube tray – learned this when making baby food).

After I have cooked the crust until it barely starts to show a golden tint, I take it out and put on the toppings.

After I have cooked the crust until it barely starts to show a golden tint, I take it out and put on the toppings.

Toppings include: homemade sauce, hamburger (I freeze extra hamburgers that do not get eaten and pull out for pizza or spaghetti), onions, peppers, mozzarella cheese, sometimes pepperoni, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley. Yes, I do make one cheese only pizza as well.

Toppings include: homemade sauce, hamburger (I freeze extra hamburgers that do not get eaten and pull out for pizza or spaghetti), onions, peppers, mozzarella cheese, sometimes pepperoni, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley. Yes, I do make one cheese only pizza as well.

The kids love making their own individual pizzas. I let them have a piece of dough to shape into their own. Lots of fun!

The kids enjoy making their own individual pizzas. I let them have a piece of dough to shape into their own. Lots of fun!

Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is cooked to liking.

Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is cooked to liking.