Find the Balance

Find the Balance

We planted Marigolds in this year's garden to see if they would generate beneficial insects that would eat potato bugs. I think they may have assisted a little, but not to the level that we needed.

We planted Marigolds this year to see if they would draw beneficial insects into the garden to eat potato bugs. I think they may have assisted a little, but not to the level that we needed.

As we clean out the garden, the boys have had some interesting questions. One that I find the most interesting is…”Why are we done for the year?” This is amusing. It wasn’t more than a few weeks ago that we were trying to do our best to be encouraging and trying to find creative ways to make sure they were helping, learning and having fun.

This year’s lesson during the growing season for the boys… “If we work together, we have time to play together.” We set the timer for a 1/2 hour to complete a garden project together, and when the timer went off, we would play baseball or football together.

We constantly are striving to find the balance to teach them a good work ethic, while keeping it fun, knowing how hard to push and when to say, “Yes, you can play with the kittens or ride bike.” Or, “Yes, you have been working hard. Go ahead and get some M&Ms from the M&M tree.” Or “Yes, you have been working hard. I made a special snack. (O’Henry Bars, chocolate chip cookies or chocolate raspberry pie.)”

So as we wind down, I thought it would be fun to make a Harvest Feast meal for the kids. Keeping it fun, providing encouragement to finish off the project and a celebration for the work that has been accomplished. Below you will find the first in a series of recipes used for the Harvest Feast.

Garden Science

Once the Marigold flower dies, the flower dies and the seeds are left.

Once the Marigold flower dies, the dead, dried flower and the seeds within are left.

The kids were amazed at how many seeds were found in just one flower. It will be interesting to see how many Marigolds reseed themselves next spring, and if we have an increase in beneficial insects for potato bug control.

The kids were amazed at how many seeds were found in just one dead flower. It will be interesting to see how many Marigolds re-seed themselves next spring, and if we have an increase in beneficial insects for potato bug control.

The boys had fun planting the seeds in different areas of the garden and watching them grow. It was fun to share this science with the children in this year's CSA. Seeds can be kept until next year in a paper envelope and planted next spring.

The boys had fun planting the seeds in different areas of the garden and watching them grow. It was fun to share this science with the children in this year’s CSA. Seeds can be kept until next year in a paper envelope and planted next spring.

Recipe of the Week

This is a family favorite. Lefse is part of my family heritage, a cultural food from Scandinavia. I remember making lefe throughout my life, and love sharing this with our boys. I am thankful that I have a husband that also loves this food. The boys were extremely excited to make this. In fact Sam said, ” Lefse, I can’t wait. We haven’t made this in such a long time. I love it!”

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, shapped 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 cooled we then package it up into Ziplock bags and freeze. Thaw out as needed and enjoy!

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.

Countdown

Countdown

Although they did seem to enjoy the treasurer hunt harvesting the pumpkins and gourds. I think they were ready to be done.

Although they did seem to enjoy the treasurer hunt harvesting the pumpkins and gourds. I think they were ready to finish and move on to more important things like the worms and toads that they had found while in the garden.

We are on the final countdown of the season. Next week will be week 17 which is an additional week due to the challenging growing season. With the beautiful 1 1/10 inch of rain that we received this past week, some of the crops have been reinvigorated. The lettuces and spinach are growing amazingly, and the sugar snap peas and green beans also are producing – finally! With this said, we want to see what the next 7 days do. There may be a bonus box the first week of October.

We spent a lot of time in the garden harvesting the gourds, squash and pumpkins.

We spent a lot of time in the garden harvesting the gourds, squash and pumpkins.

Sam harvesting gourds.

Sam harvesting gourds.

A beautiful deep reddish orange - Rouge Vif d'Etampes. Unfortunately the bugs beat us to the harvest, otherwise we would have had more for everyone! Picture taken by Sam.

A beautiful deep reddish-orange – Rouge Vif d’Etampes. Unfortunately the bugs beat us to the harvest, otherwise we would have had more for everyone! Picture taken by Sam.

Warty pumpkins are one of the boys favorites. Very fun to grow! Picture taken by Sam.

Warty pumpkins are one of the boys favorites. Very fun to grow! Picture taken by Sam.

Man did these white pumpkins ever grow this year. The heaviest one weighted in at 60#. We also had a white and green blended pumpkin weight 50#.

Man did these white pumpkins ever grow this year. The heaviest one weighted in at 60#. We also had a white and green blended pumpkin weight 50#.

Garden Science

Keith enjoyed climbing up the panels to harvest everything.

Keith enjoyed climbing up the panels to harvest everything.

These are the swan gourds that grew on the fences. Funny how they grew straight (a great example of gravity) vs the ones that grew on the ground curled up.  The two the boys are holding were 20" and 19".

These are the swan gourds that grew on the fences. Funny how they grew straight (a great example of gravity) vs the ones that grew on the ground curled up. The two the boys are holding were 20″ and 19″. One of them that grew on the ground weighted in at 17#.

Boxes of Produce

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.

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.

Broccoli – This will be the last few bites of broccoli this year. Enjoy in some fresh salad this week!

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

Peppers – Try some stuffed peppers this week.

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

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers.

Keith used a French fry cutter to make homemade French fries this weekend. We used a variety of potatoes.

Keith used a French fry cutter to make homemade French fries this weekend. We used a variety of potatoes.

Their favorite variety to use for French fries and for mashed potatoes are the blue potatoes.

Their favorite variety to use for French fries and for mashed potatoes are the blue potatoes.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes – great for baking; Norland potatoes – great for mashed potatoes; Blue potatoes – we made French fries and also mashed potatoes – the boys love the blue potatoes!

Cucumbers – Varieties include Fancipak and Straight Eights. Last of the cucumbers this week. If only we had received this beautiful rain a few weeks earlier, this crop harvest would have been extended.

Carnival Squash – This is a decorative, fun looking 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. More information here. I make it like I do Butternut Squash – see recipe below.

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

Fresh cut arrangement

  • 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.
  • Gourds – Great for arrangements or fun fall painting projects with the kids.
  • Pumpkins – Enjoy the variety!
  • Swan Gourds Here is the information to make them into bird houses later this winter.
  • Ornamental corn - this was the best harvest year for this. What a variety and some beautiful ears of corn. Enjoy your bunches and notice there is already a looped tied on the back so you just need to hang them up.

    Ornamental corn – this was the best harvest year for this crop. What a variety and some beautiful ears of corn. Enjoy your bunches and notice there is already a looped tied on the back so you just need to hang them up.

Recipe of the Week

Butternut Squash/Carnival Squash

Our family loves this recipe, and the boys eat it like crazy. I also use the prepared squash in place of pumpkin in many recipes. Butternut squash was in your boxes last week and this recipe also works well on the Carnival Squash in your boxes this week.

The boys were beyond excited that we were making and freezing squash. They both do a great job with the hand mixer for this recipe.

The boys were beyond excited that we were making and freezing squash. They both do a great job with the hand mixer for this recipe.

*Cut squash in 1/2 add enough water to cover pan (about 1/2 inch up on the side of the pan). Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour.

*Take out of oven. Scoop out seeds. The seeds can be kept and roasted.

*Using a large knife cut off skin and place in another bowl.

Add:

1 stick of butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

Using a mixer, blend together until smooth. Serve.

Sam couldn't wait to eat the squash. In fact he ate two bowls as soon as he was finished mixing it up. We used ice cream scoops to fill the muffin tins as we prepared them for freezing.

Sam couldn’t wait to eat the squash. In fact he ate two bowls as soon as he was finished mixing it up. We used ice cream scoops to fill the muffin tins as we prepared them for freezing.

To save the extra, place in a cupcake tin and freeze. Place frozen portions in storage containers to be stored in your freezer. Enjoy!

I make the squash and freeze in muffin tins. Once frozen, I store them in a container or Ziploc bag. And simply thaw out a few when I need them for a meal. Works great!

I make the squash and freeze in muffin tins. Once frozen, I remove them from the tin and store them in a container or Ziploc bag. Simply thaw out a few when you need them for a meal. This works great!

Final Stretch

Final Stretch

We hope you enjoyed your family's pumpkins this week. Next week we will have more fall decorations.

We hope you enjoyed your family’s pumpkins this week. Next week, we will have more fall decorations.

Today, as I flew into Washington, D.C. my prayers were often as I thought of all those who died on this day 12 years ago. My spirit was lifted as we flew into D.C., and I saw huge USA flags draping down on several large buildings. I was reminded, while our country continues to go through many challenges…the constant is our blessings of our Freedoms.

God Bless America and God Bless all who have fought and died to protect them and God bless their families. Our gratitude seems so small compared to their sacrifices. We salute all of you.

We are on our final stretch for the 2013 CSA year. We hope you are enjoying your boxes!

The weather is proving challenging as we are seeing the cucumbers, green beans and sugar snap peas struggle to produce something if anything.

This week, as I mentioned I am in Washington, D.C., and I ran into a farmer from Texas. I asked him how the growing season was going. He was almost brought to tears as he answered me with, “I just spoke to my wife, and we received an inch last night. This is the first rain we have had since May. We are supposed average 48 inches of rain per year. We are simply drying up.”

This conversation serves as a good reminder. We are truly blessed with the harvest we have been receiving. Please let us know if you have any questions about the weather and how it is affecting the crops, or If you want to see how the drought has been stressing the plants out in the garden. We would be happy to show you.

Understanding how your food is grown and how Mother Nature determines the outcomes that are out of our control, really does provide an amazing insight and appreciation for our food.

“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” – Chinese Proverb

Science in the Garden

The first science project that we concluded this weekend was harvesting the large zucchini that the boys wanted to grow. This one topped out at 18 1/2 inches.

We harvested the giant zucchini that the boys wanted to grow. This one topped out at 18 1/2 inches.

I also wanted to tell you more of the story behind your personalized pumpkins. This project started in August when we all went into the garden and randomly selected pumpkins for each of your families. We are never quite sure how large they will get in the end and if they will be healthy pumpkins when harvested.

I also wanted to tell you more of the story behind your personalized pumpkins. This project started in August when we all went into the garden and randomly selected pumpkins for each of your families. We are never quite sure how large they will get in the end, and if they will be healthy pumpkins when harvested.

Steve uses some wood carving tools hand tooled by his great-grandpa to accomplish this special task.

Steve uses some wood carving tools hand tooled by his great-grandpa to accomplish this special task. This was not an easy task on a hot and humid weekend day.

After Steve is done etching the name out, this is what a completed pumpkin looks like. Then we simply wait until they are ready to be harvested.

After Steve is done etching the name out, this is what a completed pumpkin looks like. Then we simply wait until they are ready to be harvested.

Boxes of Produce

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.

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 fun facts about beets.

Picking tomatoes can get a bit tiring and lead to crazy boys.

Picking tomatoes can get a bit tiring and lead to crazy boys.

Tomatoes – Fourth of July (medium size red), Yellow Girls, Romas (long, narrow), Black Krim, Big Boy and super sweet cherry tomatoes 100 . Watch how to can tomatoes from Ball canning (video) and from Colorado Extension and the University of Minnesota Extension.

There are plenty of peppers this week. I preserve them for the winter by cutting them up and freezing them.

There are plenty of peppers this week. I preserve them for the winter by cutting them up and freezing them.

Peppers – Red Beauty, Golden Summer, Orange Blaze and California Wonder peppers. Wondering about freezing your peppers for later? University of Nebraska has information.

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

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers. The green beans and sugar snap peas have really ben

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes – great for baking and Norland potatoes – great for mashed potatoes.

Cucumbers – Varieties include Fancipak and Straight Eights . The heat gotten the best of this crop. This may be the last of the cucumbers.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors FarGaze Farms – the Peterson families for this delicious vegetable!

Butternut Squash – Our family loves this vegetable! Here is how we prepare our squash.

Herbs – Cilantro and parsley

Fresh cut arrangement – Sedum, Hosta leaves and Hydrangeas – Enjoy!

Recipe of the Week

Homemade French Fries

I think I will also try this method this Fall as well.

We cut up both a Norland and a Kennebec potato into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick slices.

We cut up both a Norland and a Kennebec potato into 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices.

Then placed them in the deep fat fryer for a few minutes and removed when golden brown. I was quite excited when Sam said he wanted to eat these French fries not the store bought.

Then placed them in the deep fat fryer for a few minutes and removed when golden brown. I was quite excited when Sam said he wanted to eat these French fries not the store bought. I would say this was a success, but I also recognize that Sam loves potatoes as much as I do:)

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Lots of insects, worms and plants to discover in the garden.

Life is continual educational process. So many life lessons are learned during a growing season. Here is a look at this year’s top three.

1. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Last year, was our first year with this project, we had an extremely early spring, hail and record breaking rain 11 1/2 inches in two days which flooded 1/2 the garden.

This year, presented different challenges late cold spring and a terrible infestation of potato bugs. Each challenge provides an opportunity to grow and learn. Although we may not always understand the lesson at that time, at some point in our life we will. And we are most definitely stronger and wiser because of it.

2. Working together to get the job done, makes it go faster, more enjoyable and fun. Not only is it more fun but some of these tasks while peaceful and not that stressful can just seem to last longer then you would like. But with a bit of crazy, family fun, mixed in with a delicious snack the result can be good memories that will last a lifetime.

Here is an example of keeping it fun. Really did a little bit of mud ever hurt anyone. I don't think I will ever forget, "Look mom, mud angels!"

Here is an example of keeping it fun. Really did a little bit of mud ever hurt anyone. I don’t think I will ever forget, “Look mom, mud angels!”

3. Hands on Learning provides Common Sense. It has been amazing to watch our kids learn by doing. Agriculture is full of these opportunities. Our CSA project is definitely an example of this. I think these two quotes sum up the experience:

“Don’t tell them how to do it, show them how to do it and don’t say a word. If you tell them, they’ll watch your lips move. If you show them, they’ll want to do it themselves.” –Maria Montessori

“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” –Chinese Proverb

Let us know how we can involve you in this journey. We love the opportunity to help your families feel part of this growing season, these educational lessons and hands on learning.

Garden Experiment

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a variety of trellis options in the garden. This heavy pumpkin must have one very strong vine and stem to be hanging on the upright hog panels.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have a variety of trellis options in the garden. This heavy pumpkin must have one very strong vine and stem to be hanging on the upright hog panels.

The vines are all reaching for the sun. A pretty amazing site.

The vines are all reaching for the sun. A pretty amazing site. Pretty cool science experiment to watch how the plant desires and needs the sunlight for photosynthesis to produce the crop.

Boxes of Produce

Just some of the harvest for you.

Just some of the harvest for you.

Please remember to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your prodcue before eating.

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

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Broccoli

Tomatoes – Yellow Girls, Romas and cherry tomatoes.

Peppers – Learn how Chile peppers are grown on farms in Arizona.

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

Sam looking for green beans. A newer planting is flowering and has produced a few green beans this week. More to come next week. The new set of peas have also began flowering so peas will soon follow.

Sam looking for green beans. A newer planting is flowering and has produced a few green beans this week. More to come next week. The new set of peas have also began flowering so peas will soon follow.

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers.

Potatoes – A few fresh Masqurade and Yukon Gold potatoes for you. The potato bugs got the best of the plants so the full maturity size was not achieved. So please enjoy the baby potatoes as well. They have their own wonderful qualities.

Nothing like eating the cucumber in the garden!

Nothing like eating the cucumber in the garden!

Cucumbers – Varieties include Fancipak, Straight Eights and Japanese. Let us know if you are interested in any for pickling.

Summer Squash Medley and Zucchini – If your kids want to measure a zucchini/summer squash and watch it grow for a week, let me know.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors FarGaze Farms – the Peterson families for this delicious vegetable!

Vermicilli (spaghetti) squash – Our family enjoys this eaten just like spaghetti with our favorite homemade spaghetti sauce, some hamburger and topped with some parmesan cheese. Last year, we prepared our squash by boiling it. See how to prepare it here as well as additional recipes from Martha Stewart.

Basil - a wonderful herb for so many dishes. I love to use it when I am grilling meat, making tomato sauce, you name it.

Basil – a wonderful herb for so many dishes. I love to use it when I am grilling meat, making tomato sauce, you name it.

Herbs – Basil, Red Rubin Basil, parsley, pepperming and lemon thyme (bags are labeled with the first initial).

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety went out in your boxes as I had enough variety but not enough of one type for each of you. So the varieties included: Sunflowers or Zinnias.

Sam with the sunflowers he picked.

Sam with the sunflowers he picked.

I love watching kids pick flowers. The selection is random, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I love watching kids pick flowers. The selection is random, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Keith with sweet peas. While they are quite pretty, they only last a few short days in the house.

Keith with sweet peas. While they are quite pretty, they only last a few short days in the house.

Recipe of the Week

Chocolate Zucchini Blueberry Bread

Mix together: •2 cups sugar,1 cup applesauce 3 eggs, and3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix together: •2 cups sugar,1 cup applesauce 3 eggs, and3 teaspoons vanilla extract until well blended.

Mix together in a separate bowl: •2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour,1/2 cup baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon baking, der

Mix together in a separate bowl: •2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour,1/2 cup baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon baking and a 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Gradually beat into sugar mixture until well blended.

Stir in zucchini and blueberries. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. •Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Stir in zucchini and blueberries. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
•Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

The muffin contains two fruits and a vegetable, and they eat them right up!

The muffin contains two fruits and a vegetable, and they eat them right up!

Chocolate Zucchini Blueberry Bread

•2 cups sugar

•1 cup canola oil

•3 eggs

•3 teaspoons vanilla extract

•2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

•1/2 cup baking cocoa

•1 teaspoon salt

•1 teaspoon baking soda

•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

•1/4 teaspoon baking powder

•2 cups shredded peeled zucchini

1 cup of blueberries

Directions

•In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.

•Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Recipe modified from Tasteofhome.com

TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More

TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More

The boys being the cucumber combine. Great Teamwork!

The boys working as a team to act as the “cucumber combine.” Great Teamwork! They even were thankful for this in their prayers!

TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More – there is no I in TEAM.

Over and over throughout my life, I have been reminded of this. For me, this was ingrained in my head and my every being. This  began on the farm as we worked with our animals, bailing straw, rock picking, bean walking…you name it. Then I heard it again in sports, band, FFA, student council etc.

It was funny and very satisfying to hear Steve tell me that while he and the boys were harvesting that he heard our boys also say, “Let’s do TEAMwork.”

Sometimes in our busy lives, we can forget this very common but underlying important common sense message. TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More. A strong TEAM will provide you with a safe place to belong, will push you to excel beyond what you ever thought possible, will force you to work harder than you thought you could and will provide camaraderie that lasts a lifetime.

So why is it important to us to provide our children with farm experience?  Because of TEAM. I hope in the end of this journey that we have all excelled to be more than what we thought possible, that we are better people and a stronger family because of it and that we have left a positive footprint on the lives we had the opportunity to be part of.

Watermelons and muskmelons are growing.

Watermelon and muskmelon are growing.

We are finding gourds, pumpkins and squashes growing like crazy! Allowing for daily treasurer hunts!

We are finding gourds, pumpkins and squashes growing like crazy! Allowing for daily treasurer hunts!

Garden Experiment

Interplanting a variety of crops to maximize space was one of our experiments. The jury is still out on what we thought of interplanting onions between the tomatoes. At least this year's onion crop is an improvement upon last year.

Interplanting a variety of crops to maximize space was one of our experiments. The jury is still out on what we thought of interplanting rows of onions between the rows of tomatoes. At least this year’s onion crop is an improvement upon last year.

Boxes of Produce

Please remember to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your prodcue before eating.

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

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – reddish lettuce

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Broccoli

Red cabbage this week. Enjoy!

Red cabbage this week. Enjoy!

Red Cabbage – check out Martha Stewarts recipes for red cabbage.

Tomatoes – Yellow Girls, Romas and cherry tomatoes.

I spy with my little eye...green peppers.

I spy with my little eye…green peppers.

Peppers – Learn how Chile peppers are grown on farms in Arizona.

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

Green Beans – This type of green beans are Providers.

Potatoes – A few fresh Norland red potatoes for you.

Cucumbers – Varieties include Fancipak, Straight Eights and Japanese. Let us know if you are interested in any for pickling.

Sam thought that perhaps the zucchini could be used for a "unihorn."

Sam thought that perhaps the zucchini could be used for a “unihorn.”

Summer Squash Medley and Zucchini – If your kids want to measure a zucchini/summer squash and watch it grow for a week, let me know.

Red Rubin Basil - give it a try. It adds some wonderful color to your dishes.

Red Rubin Basil – give it a try. It adds some wonderful color and flavor to your dishes.

Herbs – Basil, Red Rubin Basil, parsley, pepperming and lemon thyme (bags are labeled with the first initial). Click here to hear Martha Stewart discuss herbs. Ideas for fresh peppermint here.

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety went out in your boxes as I had enough variety but not enough of one type for each of you. So the varieties included: Sunflowers or Zinnias.

Recipe of the Week

Garden Omelet

Sautee garden vegetables in butter. I used red and yellow onion, green peppers, yellow girl tomato and zucchini. Once the vegetables are softened set aside.

Saute’ garden vegetables in butter. I used red and yellow onion, green peppers, yellow girl tomato and zucchini. Once the vegetables are softened set aside.

Mix together with a fork 3 eggs, 1 Tablespoon water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper and add a few herbs that have been washed and torn into smaller pieces. I used basil, Red Rubin Basil and Golden Oregano.

Mix together with a fork 3 eggs, 1 Tablespoon water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper and add a few herbs that have been washed and torn into smaller pieces. I used basil, Red Rubin Basil and Golden Oregano.

Garden Omelet

With a fork, beat:

3 eggs

1 Tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of Pepper

Add herbs of your choice that have been washed and torn into smaller pieces.

Heat skillet. Butter pan with butter. Place egg mixture in skillet and cook slowly. Run spatula around edge, lifting to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath. Place choice of filling inside. I included sautéed vegetables, a couple of our favorite cheeses (mozzarella and sharp cheddar. Turn off heat. Place pan cover over the mixture for about a minute allowing cheese to melt. Fold sides over as you flip it onto a plate. Garnish with parsley and cheese.

Garnish completed omelet with cheese and omelet. I learned in 4-H foods project that a garnished food will always taste better to the person consuming it simply because of the way it is presented.

Garnish completed omelet with cheese and herbs. I learned in 4-H foods project that a garnished dish will always taste better to the person consuming it, simply because of the way it is presented.

Surprises Within

Surprises Within

Every evening and on the weekend mornings, we are excited to get out to the garden to see what garden surprises we will find. It sometimes feels like Christmas, and the boys have even equated it to an Easter egg hunt. It is simply a lot of fun. But these are surprises I anticipate that I am hoping we will find, and I would say that I even expect to find.

In life, I think the surprises that we don’t anticipate but rather you allow yourself to be surprised by are the ones that are the most wonderful. This week, I believe we were blessed to experience one of these surprises. I was in the Fargo-Moorhead region for a few days for work. Prior to my departure, we had discussed what was going on during the week and what needed to be accomplished for the CSA.

Well, it was Tuesday night and Steve was not feeling the best. Pretty soon, Steve awoke to the loud scream from Sam in the entryway saying he needed help. Steve hurried out to the entryway fearing what he might find. To his pleasant surprise, there stood two boys who had been out harvesting cucumbers and their arms were overflowing. Why? Because they new it had to be done, and Dad wasn’t feeling well.

What a wonderful surprise from within. The boys had listened and remembered the conversation from Sunday night. They knew what to do and what sizes of cucumbers to pick. They knew the importance of it, and they did this without being reminded or asked. What a wonderful surprise from within.

Look around you this week to see what surprises from within you can find that will brighten your day. Often times they are right in front of us, and they can be the smallest treasure.

This weekend was a cold one. The morning temperatures were in the mid to high 40s when the average is the mid-60s.

This weekend was a cold one. The morning temperatures were in the mid to high 40s when the average is the mid-60s. Although, it was a gorgeous morning in the garden. It wasn’t the ideal temperatures for the produce. At least we did not have the frost warning that some areas of northern Minnesota had.

Sam loved pulling these beets. He thought they were huge!

Sam loved pulling these beets. He thought they were huge!

Garden Experiments

I thought you may find our variety of trellis systems interesting. We wanted to see how to best maximize our space so we decided to try a variety of systems.

First is our cucumber trellis which are gates at an angle so that as the cucumbers grow that they will hang down through the slats. The gates are a contribution from my parents to the CSA. They are the old fences we used to use when we were raising hogs on the farm.

First is our cucumber trellis which are gates at an angle so that as the cucumbers grow that they will hang down through the slats. The gates are a contribution from my parents to the CSA. They are the old fences we used to use when we were raising hogs on the farm.

Keith and Steve installed irrigation lines for the tomatoes, peppers and vines. The water is collected off of the roof of the shop into a large water tank and pressured through a gravity flow system.

This is a picture of the upright trellis’ behind Keith and Steve.

This is the picture about a month later. The treillis' we are using are old wooden pallets that the lumber yard was giving away and old hog fence gates from my parents. These are upright, but only about 3-4 feet high.

This is the picture about a month later. The trellis’ we are using are old wooden pallets that the lumber yard was giving away and old hog fence gates from my parents. These are upright, but only about 3-4 feet high.

Next we have the hog panels which were 16 foot gates cut in half, pushed and staked into the ground and tied at the top. I am anxious to see how these work out and whether or not we need to make "hammocks" for the pumpkins and squash.

Next, we have the hog panels which were 16 foot gates cut in half, pushed and staked into the ground and tied at the top. I am anxious to see how these work out and whether or not we need to make “hammocks” for the pumpkins and squash.

Keith and I installed this trellis this weekend. We found an old dog gate for free on a garage sale and we had some lathe leftover from a construction project. We installed this on one side of the peas for them to grow up on. Also behind Keith and to the left you will see a smaller teepee system that we made several years ago for the kids to play in.

Keith and I installed these trellis’ this weekend. We found an old dog gate for free on a garage sale, and we had some lathe leftover from a construction project. We installed this on one side of the peas for them to grow up on. Also behind Keith and to the left, you will see a smaller teepee system that we made several years ago for the kids to play in. These tepees have cucumbers and gourds growing on them.

The jury is still out on which system we like. We are anxious to see how the remainder of the growing season goes with the different types of trellis’.

Boxes of Produce

Please remember to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your before eating.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops. These crops have taken a hit with the lack of rain.Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf. Broccoli – A new addition to your boxes this year. Let us know what you think of this variety of broccoli. Enjoy it fresh or cooked on the grill. Learn more about broccoli here. Onions – A few fresh onions to put in a recipe here or there.

The boys were all picking peas this weekend for my parents who are also CSA members. Since they live a few hours away, we get the produce to them when we can and when someone is heading that way. Thank you Tracy Modory for helping us on that delivery!

The boys were all picking peas this weekend for my parents who are also CSA members. Since they live a few hours away, we get the produce to them when we can and when someone is heading that way. Thank you Tracy Modory for helping us on that delivery!

Sugar Snap Peas – This is a favorite. Wash, eat the whole pod. Learn more about this healthy vegetable.

Digging potatoes can be like digging for gold. But they are second behind the M&Ms jar that I have had stashed in the wheelbarrows this summer for helping in the garden.

Digging potatoes can be like digging for gold. But they are second behind the M&Ms jar that I have had stashed in the wheelbarrows this summer for helping in the garden.

Potatoes – a few fresh Norland red potatoes for you. We were so excited to dig up the first plants last night. We scrubbed them with a scrub brush, leaving the skins on, boiled for about 20 minutes and made some beautiful mashed potatoes.

Cucumbers – The harvest is beginning. Enjoy!

Boy are the summer squash and zuchinni growing like crazy!

Boy are the summer squash and zucchini growing like crazy!

Summer Squash Medley and Zucchini – If your kids want to measure a zucchini/summer squash and watch it grow for a week, let me know. It really is amazing how fast they grow.

Herbs – Golden Oregano, Red Rubin Basil, dill and cilantro (bags are labeled with the first initial). Some good information on dill from the University of Minnesota and Wikipedia.

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety went out in your boxes as I had enough variety but not enough of one type for each of you. So the varieties included: Sunflowers or Zinnias with Hosta leaves.

Recipe of the Week

While trying a few new summer squash and zucchini recipes out this past week, the discussion turned to, “I bet they would taste better with chocolate.” My response was, “Let’s try zucchini brownies.” To which I heard some exuberant cheers. So while I would have liked to have baked them this past weekend. My baking was focused on birthday cake. We will try them this week. Here is the recipe from Taste of Home that we will try.

Zucchini Brownies

 
Ingredients
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•1/3 cup baking cocoa
•1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
•1 teaspoon salt
•2 cups shredded zucchini
•1-1/2 cups sugar
•3/4 cup vegetable oil (I will substitute with applesauce.)
•1/2 cup chopped walnuts
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
 
Frosting
•1/4 cup butter, cubed
•1 cup sugar
•1/4 cup milk
•1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
•1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional 
 
•In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, combine the zucchini, sugar and oil; stir into dry ingredients until blended. Stir in walnuts and vanilla.•Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° F. for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
 
•In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in sugar and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook and stir 1 minute or until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in chips and marshmallows until melted and smooth; add vanilla. Spread over brownies. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired. Yield: 2 dozen.
Garden Treasurers

Garden Treasurers

The boys often times ride their bikes down to the garden so excited to see what is "growing" on. Here they just discovered several pumpkins growing, and they are pretty big. These are the plants they started from seed at the end of March.

The boys often times ride their bikes down to the garden so excited to see what is “growing” on. Here they just discovered several pumpkins growing, and they are pretty big. These are the plants they started from seed at the end of March.

One of the most enjoyable parts of growing the garden is the daily, joyful discoveries. There is always something new to find and something that is changing and growing.

Our first potatoes of the season. It's like digging for gold!

Our first potatoes of the season. It’s like digging for gold!

Garden Experiments

I have told many of you that we have a lot of experiments and science projects going on in the garden. One of my friends who grew and sold vegetables with his kids from the time they were young through high school told me that there was a reason his kids were majoring in science in college. It was because there were new science experiments every year in the garden.

One of the goals this year was to maximize our space so we wanted to try to interplant between a few rows. We have planted onions between the tomato and pepper rows. So far this is going well.

One of the goals this year was to maximize our space so we wanted to try to inter-plant between a few rows. We have planted onions between the tomato and pepper rows. So far this is going well. And we have planted green beans between some of the vine rows. The green beans are flowering so we are hopeful for next week.

Here is a look at the onions between the tomato rows.

Here is a look at the onions between the tomato rows. The jury is still out but so far so good. Sam is busy looking for red tomatoes.

Boxes of Produce

Please remember to return any cups or plastic containers in your box each week. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your before eating.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops. 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 remember to wash your vegetables before eating.

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce – a beautiful addition to your salads or sandwiches.

Don't worry, trying new things is common place here as well. Taste testing and other coaxing does occur. The good news every time Sam has said, "I really do like it!"

Don’t worry, trying new things is common place here as well. Taste testing and other coaxing does occur. The good news, every time Sam has said, “I really do like it!”

Broccoli – A new addition to your boxes this year. Let us know what you think of this variety of broccoli. Enjoy it fresh or cooked on the grill. Learn more about broccoli here.

Onions – A few fresh onions to put in a recipe here or there. Enjoy on a brat this weekend!

Carrots – The carrots seem to like the soil in our pallet garden the best. Believe it or not these were planted April 20. They are a good demonstration of the unusual growing season.

I need to give a shout out to Steve. The day of harvest he spends between 1-2 hours picking peas. He is usually up at 5 a.m. to start the process. Thanks Steve!!

I need to give a shout out to Steve. The day of harvest he spends between 1-2 hours picking peas. He is usually up at 5 a.m. to start the process. Thanks Steve!!

Sugar Snap Peas – This is a favorite. Wash, eat the whole pod. Learn more about this healthy vegetable.

The first red potato of the season was discovered this week as we were pulling weeds. A potato plant accidently was pulled and what a fun discovery we found! Let the potato harvest begin!

The first red potato of the season was discovered this week as we were pulling weeds. A potato plant accidentally was pulled and what a fun discovery we found! Let the potato harvest begin!

Potatoes – a few fresh Norland red potatoes for you. We were so excited to dig up the first plants last night. We scrubbed them with a scrub brush, leaving the skins on, boiled for about 20 minutes and made some beautiful mashed potatoes.

Summer Squash Medley and Zucchini – Check out variety of ideas for how to use this delicious summer treat. Here are a few basics that you might find helpful. Try these Top 10 Taste of Home zucchini recipes. Remember if your kids want to measure a zucchini/summer squash and see how much it grows in a week, let me know. Last week, Claire measured a summer squash at 2 3/4 inches. This week at harvest it was 9 inches.

Rhubarb – One last taste of this garden favorite. See the pie recipe below.

Herbs – Golden Oregano, Red Rubin Basil, Curly Leaf Parsley and cilantro (bags are labeled with the first initial). Wash then freeze in small portions in ice-cube trays.

Zinnias are in full bloom. Another round is growing.

Zinnias are in full bloom. Another round is growing. Picture by Keith.

Fresh cut arrangement – A variety went out in your boxes as I had enough variety but not enough of one type for each of you. So the varieties included: Sunflowers or Zinnias with Hosta leaves.

Recipe of the Week

This past week was our county fair. For any 4-Her, the fair brings back many memories. One of my fondest memories of the fair was my many baking projects.

Throughout the summer, I would bake different recipes of the project that I was going to bring to the fair. My mom, dad and brothers along with my Grandpa Hollie provided me honest feedback on each and every recipe until at last, the final selection was made. This was a fun and a brave project for all involved (since you never knew quite how the recipe would turn out). In the end, I always learned something, my family was generally well fed, and the majority of my projects fared well ending usually in a blue, reserve or champion. This particular pie crust recipe was a champion recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.

Pie Crust

2 cups flour

1 cup Crisco

2 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup milk

Cut together flour, Crisco, sugar and salt. Then mix together milk and egg yolk. Mix into flour mixture. Divide dough into two balls of dough.  May be stored unbaked for several days in the refrigerator.

Rhubarb Pie

4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup flour

In large mixing bowl stir together above ingredients. Pour into pie pan layered with pie crust (one ball of dough rolled out and then put into pie pan).  Top rhubarb mixture with about 2 Tablespoons of stick butter cut into smaller pieces. Top with other pie crust. Roll edges under to make the pie crust. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut vent holes (I usually etch my initials in the top for the vent holes). Cover outside edges of crust with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes – 1 hour or until you stick a fork in through the vent holes and the rhubarb is tender, and the top is golden brown.

Rhubarb Pie Tutorial

When rhubarb is harvested it is pulled from the ground. The white ends are what was pulled out of the ground and the leaves are cut off of the other side.

When rhubarb is harvested it is pulled from the ground. The white ends are what was pulled out of the ground, and the leaves are cut off of the other side.

Wash the rhubarb and cut off the white ends, any damaged areas and provide a fresh cut to the other side if it has become slightly dried out.

Before washing, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the rhubarb and cut off the white ends, any damaged areas and provide a fresh-cut to the other side if it has become slightly dried out.

Cut into 1/4 -1/2 inch pieces.

Cut into 1/4 -1/2 inch pieces.

To the 4 cups of cut rhubarb add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour.

To the 4 cups of cut rhubarb add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour.

Mix and set aside.

Mix and set aside.

Using a pie cutter mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup Crisco, 2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Using a pie cutter mix together 2 cups flour, 1 cup Crisco,        2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix together 1/3 cup of milk and 1 egg yolk. Add to pie crust flour mixture. Mix. Then split dough into two portions and roll into large softball like balls.

Mix together 1/3 cup of milk and 1 egg yolk. Add to pie crust flour mixture. Mix. Then split dough into two portions and roll into large softball like balls. Set aside and prepare area to roll out the dough.

Spread out your flour on your pastry cloth.

Spread out your flour on your pastry cloth.

Roll your rolling pin with your pastry sock in the flour and push all extra flour onto one side in a pile.

Roll your rolling-pin with your pastry sock in the flour and push all extra flour to the far top edge of your pastry cloth in a line so that you can roll your rolling-pin on the pile of flour to coat the pastry sock with flour before rolling out your top crust.

Place your ball of dough on your pastry cloth. Proceed to flatten by "chopping" your hand gently three times across the dough both ways.  Then roll out into a circle that is slightly larger then your pie pan.

Place your ball of dough on your pastry cloth. Proceed to flatten by “chopping” your hand gently three times across the dough both ways. This will begin your process of forming a circle. Then roll out into a circle that is slightly larger than your pie pan.

Roll your rolling pin over your crust gently rolling the crust onto the rolling pan so that you can pick it up and gently roll it back out over your pie pan. Once the bottom crust is in, pour out your rhubarb mixture and spread out evenly in your pie plate. Top with about 2 Tablespoons of butter that has been cut into dabs to place all over the top of the pie filling. Then roll your dough over your rolling pin and proceed to roll it back out over the top of the pie.

Roll your rolling-pin over your crust gently rolling the crust onto the rolling pan so that you can pick it up and gently roll it back out over your pie pan. Once the bottom crust is in, place your rhubarb mixture over the bottom crust and spread out evenly in your pie plate. Top with about 2 Tablespoons of butter that has been cut into dabs to place all over the top of the pie filling. Then roll your dough over your rolling-pin and proceed to roll it back out over the top of the pie. Picture by Sam.
Rolling the dough on the edges under taking off any access. Brush top of crust with milk. Extra dough can be rolled out again brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar mixture, rolled up again in small pieces and baked for about 6 minutes. Great snack!

To form your crust around the edge. Roll the dough on the edges under taking off any access. Brush top of crust with milk. Extra dough can be rolled out again brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar mixture, rolled up again in small pieces and baked for about 6 minutes. Great snack!

Cut vent holes in the top using a steak knife. I usually cut out my initials. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Cut vent holes in the top using a steak knife. I usually cut out my initials. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes. Somebody was very excited to help make this pie!

Rhubarb pie complete! Yummy!

Rhubarb pie complete! Yummy!

Enjoy the fresh rhubarb pie (the last of the season) with your ice cream. What a delicious treat! Enjoy!

Enjoy the fresh rhubarb pie (the last of the season) with your ice cream. What a delicious treat! Enjoy!

Measurable Growth

Checking out new things in the garden is always a treasure hunt with lots of smiles and excitement.

Checking out new things in the garden is always a treasure hunt with l.ots of smiles and excitement. There are a variety of items growing like crazy these hot, humid days and nights really do provide great growing days for the plants.

This past weekend we went to Ohio to visit the Harner’s. As I mentioned last week, we had done a lot of staking and putting up trellis’, it is a good thing we did because upon our return we saw significant growth in the vines as well as the other crops and of course the weeds! But with this we saw a great opportunity to see how much the different crops might grow during the week. So Keith and I did some measuring, which I noted below in the pictures. I would love to have each of the families, if they are interested, measure a crop, tag it as their own and see how much that particular squash etc might grow during the week. Let me know if you are interested, and we will get that started next week at pick up.

While we were in Ohio, a lot of growing occurred. Keith and I measured some of the summer squash to see how much they grow this week.

While we were in Ohio, a lot of growing occurred. Keith and I measured some of the summer squash to see how much they will grow this week. We measured on Monday morning and on Wednesday at harvest time some of them had grown around 2 more inches.

The potatoes are in full bloom with a variety of colors. Each variety of potato has a different color bloom. Looking forward to fresh potatoes in the near future.

The potatoes are in full bloom with a variety of colors. Each variety of potato has a different color bloom. Looking forward to fresh potatoes in the near future.

The ornamental corn really grew. The storms on Tuesday caused a bit of havoc with the corn blowing much of it over so that it is leaning. Thankfully it was not flattened.

The ornamental corn really grew. The storms on Tuesday caused a bit of havoc with the corn – blowing much of it over so that it is leaning. Thankfully it was not flattened.

Sugar snap peas a CSA favorite.

Sugar snap peas a CSA favorite.

Your Boxes of Produce

Please read as this is updated about with specific information on each crop. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your before eating.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce – One of my favorite garden crops.  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 remember to wash your vegetables before eating.

Red Ruby Lettuce – Remember this crop is ran under cold well water to take the field heat off. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating. Adds great color to your salads.

Spinach – So happy to have this back in your boxes this week. Enjoy!

Prizehead – is the spear like green leaf.

The remaining kohlrabi was harvested this week. I have planted another round that I hope will be ready this fall.

The remaining kohlrabi was harvested this week. I have planted another round that I hope will be ready this fall.

Kohlrabi – We had a lot of requests for this crop last year. In German, this crop means cabbage turnip. Basically it describes the texture and the taste – truly a pleasant surprise that can be eaten raw or cooked. The purple are Purple Vienna and the green are Early White Vienna. You can eat both the bulbs and the leaves. Check out this information to get the how to instructions. This link discusses eating the leaves.

I loved this picture that Keith took of the sugar snap peas with the rain drops.

I loved this picture that Keith took of the sugar snap peas with the rain drops.

Sugar Snap Peas – This is a favorite. Wash, eat the whole pod. Enjoy! More to come in the upcoming weeks.

Summer Squash Medley – Check out Taste of Home’s variety of ideas for how to use this delicious summer treat.

Cilantro

Cilantro

Herbs – cilantro, golden oregano and lemon thyme (bags are labeled with the first initial). Wash then freeze in small portions in ice cube trays.

Fresh cut arrangement –  Double Play Big Bang Spirea flowers and Hosta leaves 

When we are working in the garden, the boys also find a lot of time to tame kittens. In fact, it is very amazing to watch boys go from rough and tough to very gentle and kind with the kittens.

When we are working in the garden, the boys also find a lot of time to tame kittens. In fact, it is very amazing to watch boys go from rough and tough to very gentle and kind with the kittens.