Continued surprises abound

We checked the watermelon and canteloupe on Friday night and they were smaller then a ping pong ball. On Sunday afternoon, they were between the size of a softball and a volleyball.

Each day brings different growing conditions for the plants and continued unpredictability of the crop outcomes in the garden. We were blessed on Sunday with a gentle rain which amounted to about 25/100″. Tonight as I saw the clouds come over, I was hopeful and grateful for the incoming rain and then became sick to my stomach as I heard the pinging sound of hail on the window. We will see what the remainder of the evening will bring. But again, we know we have much to be grateful for. Pray for rain for those in need, as so many around this great nation are in dire need of it.

On Monday, Steve and Sam tilled the ground to prepare for another planting of lettuce varieties and beans.

Keith assisted with planting.

BOXES OF PRODUCE

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

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

The pallet gardens planted with the different varieties of lettuce are working great!

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

Cucumbers – We shared some of the cucumbers earlier this week with the students at the Northfield Montessori. We are picking every couple of days. Let us know if you are interested in extra for pickling.

Before doing any kitchen project with the kids, I find it works best to layout all of the ingredients with measuring cups. For this recipe, we needed salt, vinegar and water for the brine. Dill, garlic and rye bread and our items we wanted to pickle which were green beans and cucumbers.

We made Sunshine Pickles on Sunday using green beans and larger cucumbers. We sliced them lengthwise using the mandeline that Steve’s Great-Grandpa Lachey made. It is beautiful craftsmanship!

Keith placed green beans in his jar.

We tilted Sam’s jar to lay the cucumbers in the jar that were sliced lengthwise.

Steve reminded me that after you are done filling the jars, run a wooden spoon around the edges making sure to get the air out and see if there is room for more of whatever you are pickling. Remember to leave about an inch head space to the top of the jar. Remember to see the recipe on Sunshine Pickles on the previous post.

The boys are excited about completing the project and anxious to try them later this week.

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

Summer Squash – zucchini recipes

Onions – We can assure you a plentiful supply of onions this year. In your boxes this week were yellow onions. America’s Heartland provides a bit of USA onion history.

Potatoes – This week we have Norland – great for mashed or boiled potatoes and Kennebec – great for baking.

Keith and Sam helping to harvest cucumbers and tomatoes.

Tomatoes – We are so excited to have some tomatoes in your boxes this week to include Big Boys, Roma, Yellow Girl and cherry tomatoes. Learn more about how tomatoes are shipped from farms to processing plants on America’s Heartland.

Peppers – Banana peppers.

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

Fresh Flowers – Zinnias or sunflowers this week. They will both keep longer if you change their water and give them a fresh cut in two days.

Sunflowers

Zinnias

Recipe of the Week

Omelets

Mix Together:

3 eggs

1 Tablespoon of Water

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Dash of salt (I like to use Kosher salt)

Prepare fry pans, toppings, bread for toast and set table before starting the omelets.

Tonight for our omelet filling we used, red and yellow tomatoes, onion, green peppers, cilantro and oregano.

After the toppings were prepared, both of my pans were ready to go, bread was in the toaster and the table was set, I poured my egg batter into my fry pan which was on medium low and had been coated with melted butter. When making an omelet, let the egg cook and gently push the cooked egg in while tilting the pan and the uncooked egg will then fill in that part of the fry pan. Proceed to do this all around the pan until it appears that no more egg batter will move to the side then cover to finish mostly cooking the egg.

Add your toppings and cover the pan to melt the cheese and finish cooking the egg. In the meantime, push down your toast.

Gently loosen the edges and roll out onto your plate.

Don’t forget to garnish with some shredded cheese and some of your fresh parsley. One thing I always remember from my 4-H cooking project, the more beautiful the dish, the more appealing to the pallet. Enjoy!

Fortunate for a variety of bounty

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

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

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

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

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

Storing Vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOXES OF PRODUCE

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Squash – zucchini recipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh cut arrangement – Zinnias and sunflowers this week.

Lazy Tacos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain brings relief

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

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

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

BOXES OF PRODUCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Beans – A good healthy harvest this week.

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

Summer Squash – Zuchinni

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

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

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

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

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

SUNSHINE PICKLES

Shared by GayLene Johnson and Stacey VanGeldren

Recipe for pickling cucumbers, asparagus and green beans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean cucumbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brine (for Gallon recipe below):

6 cups cold water

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

6 Tablespoons canning salt (I used Kosher salt)

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

*Fill with cucumbers, asparagus or green beans.

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

*Cover all ingredients with the brine.

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

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

FREEZING HERBS

Wash herbs under cold water.

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

A closer look at how Keith was doing this.

Run water over the herbs and place in the freezer.

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