4-H Journey to the State Fair

4-H Journey to the State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair means something different for everyone. Perhaps it brings back a memory of cheese curds, giant yellow slide, seed art, Miracle of Birth Center or great family memories.

For our family, it means a journey of continual learning in 4-H project areas that culminate with the opportunity to compete and learn from 4-Hers from across our state’s 87 counties. When I was a 4-Her, we were allowed to accept and take one state fair trip. I took my pig. Because going to the fair with an animal was simply way more fun than a general project area. This year, Keith was old enough and earned state fair trips by receiving high county fair placings in both a livestock and a general project area. He also judged with the county’s general livestock judging team.

Swine Project

The livestock project journey begins with selecting 4-H pigs earlier in the year. The boys select their pigs on their own based upon what they feel will match what the judge is looking for. During the summer months, they work with them so they walk the way you want them to in the show ring, feed them a balanced nutritional ration to grow the way you would like them to and care for the pig(s) so they reach their full potential.

Livestock projects allow our kids to learn through hands-on experiences. The livestock teach life lessons that are sometimes simply difficult to put into words. The animals become a steady companion throughout the growing cycle, that listen to them, teach patience and perseverance, compassion and loss, winning and losing, contentment and friendship, dedication and follow-through. There were many mornings before and after baseball tournaments that I found the boys working with their animals.

This all culminates at the state fair. 4-Hers participate in a species-specific interview, showmanship and the animal being judged.

Vegetable Gardening

The vegetable gardening project area begins with selecting varieties to plant to preparing harvests to occur at both the county fair in July and the state fair in August. This planning begins the season before and continues through the planting season.

Preparing the project items for the vegetable garden project to be taken to the fair takes a considerable amount of time. Consider harvesting all of the following: two small vegetables: 12 pea pods and 12 green beans (12 cherry tomatoes for the state fair); three medium sized vegetables: three carrots, three beets, three cucumbers and one large vegetable. If there is more than one, they need to be as close to identical as possible. Once harvested, the tops and bottoms need to be trimmed, and vegetables cleaned appropriately to display vibrantly. It is time consuming. For the project judging they need to know planting conditions, vegetable variety selection, challenges with the growing season and how to resolve them, pest control and health benefits of the vegetables and how to utilize the vegetables.

This is just a snippet of the two project areas that Keith took to the state fair. As parents and volunteer 4-H leaders, we learn so much by being on this journey with them and are so grateful for all the mentors that support their learning and personal growth. We are blessed beyond measure with the friendships and opportunities that 4-H provides to our family.

We encourage you to contact your county Extension office or search online for your 4-H in your area. It’s easy to say you don’t have time to squeeze in one more activity for your kids. Once you see them experience a project interview with an adult judge at the fair or the learning that occurs through the project area, you will understand that 4-H is worth your time and effort. Learn more here.

Garden Science

You may wonder about the story behind your personalized pumpkins. This project starts in August with Steve and the boys carefully etching your names into a pumpkin. The scar on the skin heals over forming the beautiful art.

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

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

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

Beets – This beet crop has been fairly resilient through this crazy growing conditions. Enjoy beets by peeling and cutting into wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or boil with the skin on for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until tender. Eat with a dab of butter or in a salad. Check out the NDSU Pocket Guide to Preparing Fruits and Vegetables.

Carrots – The carrot crop in general has not liked the drought this year. Enjoy fresh or cooked. Try these brown sugar glazed carrots from Martha Stewart.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so. Here are a few cucumber ideas from Martha Stewart.

Peppers – A variety of peppers for you to chose from. Learn more about peppers from America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes. Great for cooking on the grill, boiling or mashed. Learn more about how potatoes are harvested from America’s Heartland.

Onions – White Onions

Winter Squash Butternut, Kuri, Spaghetti and Carnival squash this week. Sorry to inundate you all at once. Remember that Butternut, Kuri and Carnival squash can be cooked and then frozen for use throughout the winter

Salsa

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July, yellow, cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities. Enjoy the salsa this week! Let us know if you are interested in more.

Sam selected the area that he felt would grow the best watermelon. I think he did a good job! We hope you enjoy this delight.

Watermelon – Sam took on the role of growing the watermelons this year. We are so excited with the outcomes. Enjoy!

Pumpkins, Ornamental Corn and Corn Shocks – Enjoy some Fall decorations. More to come next week.

Recipe of the Week

Butternut Squash

My 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

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.

Presents under the leaves

Presents under the leaves

It is hard to believe that the end of the growing season is just around the corner. But it is true, it is almost the middle of September, school has begun, and the smell of fall is in the air. I do love fall. There is just always part of me that is sad to see summer come to a close.

It is so exciting to se what is growing under the leaves.

On the bright side, the pumpkins are peeking through the leaves and the color in the garden is exciting to see. It sometimes feels like Christmas and the excitement of seeing presents under the tree. Only it is presents under the leaves scattered across the field.

The recent rains have given everything a little boost to finish the growing season strong. We are anxious to harvest sweet potatoes, watermelon, winter squashes, gourds, pumpkins, popcorn and ornamental corn. Be prepared for a variety of choices and colors. Don’t let the abundance overwhelm you. Focus instead on the joyful calm that the beautiful array of colors bring.

We have been patiently waiting for the right time to harvest the watermelon. Patience is a virtue.

Boxes of Produce

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

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

Lettuce/Spinach/Kale Mix – Unfortunately, this crop has really struggled this year. This week was a mix of spinach, kale and Red Oak Leaf lettuce.

Beets – Detroit Dark Red Beets

Fancipak Cucumbers

Cabbage or Cauliflower – Purple cabbage or purple cauliflower varieties to try this week.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so.

Kohlrabi – A garden favorite. I love to peel it, cut it up like an apple and dip in peanut butter.

Peppers – A variety are available. Let us know what you think about the hot peppers. Meanwhile, you have green peppers and the smaller red peppers, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes. Great for cooking on the grill, boiling or mashed.

We love the braided stem of the onion.

Onions – White Onions

Radishes – The last of this year’s radishes. Enjoy them in a salad, on a sandwich or in a hot dish.

Summer Squash – Zucchini, Peter Pan and Sunburst varieties. These younger varieties are greatTIP: use your summer squash like your zucchini. None of these need to be peeled when using them.

Sungold Tomatoes

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July, yellow, cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. The tomatoes are quickly turning. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities. Let us know if you are interested in more tomato juice.

Winter Squash – Butternut, Kuri and Spaghetti squash are available this week.

Zinnias and Hydrangeas – These should brighten up your home. Put a splash of bleach in the water to help them last longer.

Recipe of the Week

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

Serve as a dip with your favorite chips or crackers. The zesty lime dressing offers a fun punch of summer that will have you making this salad again and again.

4 ears sweet corn
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño seeds and ribs removed, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
¼ c. canola oil
2 ripe avocados halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
6 scallions thinly sliced
½ c finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

-Preheat the grill to medium heat.

-Grill corn until tender about 20 minutes. Let cool and remove kernels.

-In a large bowl, combine the garlic, jalapeño, lime zest, lime juice, and oil. Whisk to combine.

-Add the corn, avocado, tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: NDSU Extension

Under the Canopy

Under the Canopy

It is so much fun at this time of year to walk around and find what is growing under the canopy of leaves. We are seeing a variety of winter squashes, pumpkins, gourds, cantaloupes and watermelon. The challenging part of all of this is that while we are super excited to see them, we still have to be patient for them to reach full maturity.

It is a good reminder that being patient in life is worth the wait.

Be prepared that a lot of surprises will be harvested in the coming weeks. We encourage you to be ready to preserve the produce to enjoy this winter.

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Boxes of Produce

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

Lettuce/Spinach Mix – Unfortunately, this crop has really struggled this year. This week was a mix of spinach, kale, Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf lettuce.

Brussel Sprouts – Give this vegetable a try. I had never tried them until this year, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so.

Green Beans – The first of this second crop. Perhaps you are interested in pickling some. Let us know. It looks like there is a good crop coming.

Purple Kohlrabi – love the color.

Kohlrabi – A garden favorite. I love to peel it, cut it up like an apple and dip in peanut butter.

Peppers – A variety are making an appearance in the garden. There will be some super-hot ones forth coming. Meanwhile, I encourage you to try the smaller red peppers, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes. Great for the grill or baked.

Onions – A variety of onions were harvested this week, Walla Walla and Blush Onions.

Summer Squash – Zucchini, Peter Pan and Sunburst varieties. TIP: use your summer squash like your zucchini. None of these need to be peeled when using them.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – We started the second planting of this crop. We are grateful that the peas are doing well with the timely rains.

Sungold Tomatoes – super sweet surprise. Great to eat even for breakfast!

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July and cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. The tomatoes are quickly turning. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities.

Sunflowers, Zinnias and Hydrangeas – These should brighten up your home. Put a splash of bleach in the water to help them last longer.

Recipe of the Week

Banana-Zucchini Bread

Banana-Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

2 cups sugar

1 cup applesauce

1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, bananas, sugar and oil. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in zucchini and pecans.

Pour into 2 greased 9×5-in. loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Taste of Home

Hidden Color Unveiled

Hidden Color Unveiled

One of the interesting and unique aspects about harvesting tomatoes and working with the tomatoes is that when we wash our hands, they are so green, and boy do you smell like a tomato! This is unlike any other crop that we grow and harvest.

I always wonder about the hidden message in these lessons found in the garden. Perhaps this lesson is that sometimes what makes us so unique is hidden amongst many things. Until you “dive in” and go to work, you don’t really see the benefit of what’s in front of you or you reap what you work hard for?

For example, we have oodles of tomatoes. You need to go through the vines to find the ripe one. This takes time, patience and tenacity. This is not always fun when it is hot out. While the green color and smell are unique and different when we wash our hands, these are reminders of the hard work and perhaps God is telling us to pause and remember the lessons and treasures that were unveiled from our determination.

I encourage you to take time this week to see what lessons God is trying to teach you. I know it is hard to pause and reflect. It is in this reflection that many “ah ha” moments and lessons can be learned

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

A variety of lettuce, kale and spinach greens for you this week.

Lettuce/Spinach Mix – Unfortunately, this crop has really struggled this year. This week was a mix of spinach, kale, Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf lettuce.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so.

Harvesting green beans is always better with a partner.

Green Beans – The first of this second crop. Perhaps you are interested in pickling some. Let us know. It looks like there is a good crop coming.

Kohlrabi – A garden favorite. I love to peel it, cut it up like an apple and dip in peanut butter.

Pepper, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer Hybrid

Peppers – A variety are making an appearance in the garden. There will be some super-hot ones forth coming. Meanwhile, I encourage you to try the smaller red peppers, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes. Great for the grill or baked.

Onions – A variety of onions were harvested this week, Walla Walla and Blush Onions.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors the Peterson family for supplying our sweet corn for your families.

Summer Squash – Zucchini, Peter Pan and Sunburst varieties. TIP: use your summer squash like your zucchini. None of these need to be peeled when using them.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – We started the second planting of this crop. We are grateful that the peas are doing well with the timely rains.

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July and cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. The tomatoes are quickly turning. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities.

Sunflowers, Zinnias and Hydrangeas – These should brighten up your home. Put a splash of bleach in the water to help them last longer.

Recipe of the Week

One of the interesting and unique aspects about harvesting tomatoes and working with the tomatoes is that when we wash our hands, they are so green, and boy do you smell like a tomato! This is unlike any other crop that we grow and harvest.
Banana-Zucchini Bread

Banana-Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

2 cups sugar

1 cup applesauce

1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, bananas, sugar and oil. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in zucchini and pecans.

Pour into 2 greased 9×5-in. loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Taste of Home

Warmer weather on the Horizon

Warmer weather on the Horizon

We are ready for some sunshine and no snow and are hopeful that the weather forecast of warmer days to come are upon us. Here is a glimpse of our activity last week.

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Keith and I planted some of our seeds last week such as cauliflower, tomatoes, watermelon and more.

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It is fun to see all of the different sizes and shapes of the seeds and then to see what they grow into. A miracle combined with science and Mother Nature – always fun to witness.

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We were grateful for a beautiful day. The boys all had a hard time believing me that we were in a winter storm warning for the following day.

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Sure enough, the snow came, and the boys made the most of it. Grateful that one week later the snow is gone.

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Keith with one of the Isa Brown hens that is quickly growing and maturing at little over 7 weeks old.

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After a hard days work, it was fun to see the boys sit down and just enjoy these young chickens. This is one of the male rooster Isa Browns at just over 7 weeks of age.

 

 

 

 

 

Springing into April

Springing into April

We are so glad to spring into April. Longer days and more sunshine are always a good thing. It is such an interesting, unprecedented time we are living in. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. We are so grateful for everyone on the front line and for everyone that is helping to keep us fed, clothed and safe. My God be with all of you.

Below is an update on what we have been busy with.

“Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God.” Psalm 86:2

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Seed selection always is a great way to cheer us up. It has been fun looking through these catalogs and university trial research to decide on best options for this year’s season.

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It so fun to see the variety of seeds arriving. We are anxiously waiting for the soil to warm up.

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The rhubarb is emerging. Yum!

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Yesterday, this was covered in snow. We are so thankful that it was only about an inch of snow and some other forms of precipitation.

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The Isa Brown chicks are growing fast. Look how many feathers they have at about 5 1/2 weeks of age. The red feathered is the hen, female, and the white feathered is the rooster, male, in this breed of chicken.

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Here is a view of the hens wing feathers.  What a beautiful pattern of colors.

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We have been using this time as a way to get some of our projects done such as installing new windows, soffit and facia. We are hoping to complete some more projects this upcoming week.

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It is such a joy to see tulips and daffodils emerging. I just hope that the weather doesn’t turn cold again anytime soon, and that Mother Nature is truly trying to bring us Spring and warmer weather. Here’s wishing you and your family some Spring joy this week.

 

Feeling Blessed

Feeling Blessed

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Thank you for being along for this growing season journey.

It is hard to believe we are at the end of our season. As you can imagine, we will not miss harvesting in the rain and the cold freezing hands that come with it. We will miss the valued conversations with all of you, and the shared ideas of how to eat and use the produce. It is indeed fun to hear how all of you use it, and what produce excites you and generates fun memories of your family.

Tonight’s conversation at confirmation around creation and our responsibilities to appreciating and taking care of what God created stimulated some good season ending thoughts.

One of the versus discussed was from Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We see a lot of this when we work with plants and animals as these grow and produce and die and return to the soil providing nutrients to grow something anew. Now is really the time of year we see many things come full circle.

We spent this past week, cleaning up the garden and preparing for the soil for the next growing season. Recognizing that plant material will break down into soil and/or we use it as feed for the chickens which then produce manure used for fertilizing some of the crops. Areas which will grow pumpkins and corn, we incorporated manure into the soil and will plant cover crops as soon as the rain stops and allows us to do this. All of which feeds the soil to grow bountiful crops to share with all of you.

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Five of the six fields are cleaned off and ready for cover crop. We will clean out the last field this week.

Another reflective point at confirmation tonight was a reminder of our responsibility to care for all of God’s creation. From the work I do and the privilege I have with working with farmers all over the state, I do believe there is no other group of people that have such a unique bond and love for the land and all of God’s creation. They are in tune with what makes the land be the best it can be and their animals thrive. Many wonder what farmers are doing to protect our environment. Here are two recent pieces of information that you may appreciate seeing. One is from Farmers for a Sustainable Future and the other is 30 Harvests from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

In closing, one of the parting thoughts from confirmation was never underestimating the power of what God has in store and that one can make a positive change. We feel blessed to have been part of your lives this growing season. Please know that you made our lives brighter because you were part of it. Thank you!

Garden Science

Giant Vegetables – Take a look at these giant vegetables. The kohlrabi were as big as the boys’ heads weighing in at 3 pounds, 3.25 pounds, 3.5 pounds and 3.75 pounds.

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The beets weighted in at 1 pounds, 1.5 pounds, 1.75 and 3 pounds.

 

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The giant zucchini weighted in at 12. 5 pounds and was 24.5 inches long.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Remember that some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So, remember to wash your vegetables before eating. It’s week 16.

Lettuce/Spinach – You have some Red Oak Lettuce and Spinach in your box. This next crop has been a real challenge to get going, but it looks like this cold weather and rain has encouraged it. Looks promising for next week.

Arugula – Arugula is a peppery, distinctive-tasting green that originated in the Mediterranean region. If you like this crop, let us know and we will put more in your box next week.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The entire plant is edible.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi – just a few left.

Dragon Tongue Beans and Purple Beans – This heritage variety of beans can be used like green beans. Enjoy the different color.

Sugar Snap Peas – The final crop …enjoy. Check out pea harvest in Minnesota near Blooming Prairie. Did you know Minnesota generally will rank as number one in the nation for peas produced for processing (canning or freezing).

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – the third crop is being harvested

Onion – Walla Walla and yellow onions in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions and how they are grown and distributed to our grocery store from America’s Heartland.

Tomatoes – This crop is exploding…enjoy a few extra to freeze for salsa or soups later this year. Check out how tomatoes get from the farm to the grocery store at America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – Norlands are in your box. Great for cooking. Learn more about this variety here. 

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Check out it’s nutritional benefits.

Carnival/Kuri and Butternut Squash – Love the versatility of these winter squash and the potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, they offer. Interesting health information from Harvard on this vegetable.

Purple Cauliflower – a taste for you this week.

Purple Cabbage – A few small ones are left if this fits your lifestyle better.

Flowers of the Week – Hydrangeas and Sedums

Pumpkins and gourds – enjoy the variety – this crop suffered from the growing season and the area where they were growing was compacted down from all of the tornado clean-up last year. We are looking forward to a better crop next year.

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Recipe of the Week

Salsa

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Steve made hot salsa and mild salsa this week. We hope you enjoy the taste. We also hope you to have been trying different salsa recipes. Please share your favorite recipes so we can share them with the shareholders. Check out Taste of Homes top 10 salsa recipes.

 

Priceless Moments

Priceless Moments

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Harvesting Tomatoes

As we were harvesting and beginning to pack boxes this week, you could tell there was a sense of contentment with all of us. It was a beautiful evening with enough of a breeze that the bugs were not bad. Conversations were flowing about our days, about strange insects we were seeing in the garden, what produce was ready and what produce was seeing the end of its production.

We then divided into teams. A team to harvest sweet corn, and another team to pack produce into boxes. To be honest, I love the one on one time with each of the boys. I know which produce the boys like to pack, and honestly it is fun to watch them build a skill and see them do a nice job with it. Watching them pack produce is a lot like watching someone bag your groceries at the grocery store – it is a true skill set.

As we wrapped up, and we moved onto the next part of our evenings. I remember walking away thinking how much I valued and cherished these moments of time spent together. I realized last night when we were reflecting on our favorite parts of our days and thanking God for our three favorite things that I was not the only one. Both boys, specifically said harvesting sweet corn and packing boxes were among there favorite things.

The moral of the story: don’t ever under value what appears to be work or mundane tasks with your loved ones. These truly might be some of the most valued parts of your day and most cherished memories together because of the true sense of calm over these comfortable tasks completed together. These are the moments when valued conversations happens and bonds are strengthen.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

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

Lettuce/Spinach – You have some Red Oak Lettuce and Spinach in your box. This next crop has been a real challenge to get going, but it looks like this cold weather and rain has encouraged it. Looks promising for next week.

ArugulaArugula is a peppery, distinctive-tasting green that originated in the Mediterranean region. If you like this crop, let us know and we will put more in your box next week.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

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Sorry to say, but the radish crop has come to an end.

Radishes – These Cherry Belle Radishes are loving this colder weather.

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The entire plant is edible – that includes the leaves. They serve this beet soup at church, and I love it.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi. Peel it and slice like an apple. Here are more ideas.

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The flower of the dragon tongue bean which eventually produces the bean.

Dragon Tongue Beans – This heritage variety of beans can be used like green beans. Enjoy the different color.

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For those of you that love cucumbers, our third and final crop of cucumbers are ready.

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – we will have cucumbers for a while. We hope you enjoy this healthy snack. Check out these refrigerator pickle recipes from Taste of Home.

Onion – Walla Walla onions in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions from America’s Heartland.

Tomatoes – A taste of a few cherry tomatoes and Fourth of July tomatoes this week. Here are a few recipe ideas from America’s Heartland.

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Red Norland

Potatoes – The Red Norlands are great for cooking. Some of you may have some younger potatoes in your boxes (smaller). I find that the potatoes right out of the garden often cook and bake faster than others. Yeah – faster meal preparation!

Green Bell Peppers – The peppers are just taking off.

Banana Pepper – I cut these up and freeze extra peppers for later in the year.

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Flower after flower will grow into a zucchini.

Butternut Winter Squash – This is our family favorite of squashes. It is hourglass in shape. Here are a few recipes for Butternut Squash from Martha Stewart.

carnival-squash

Carnival Squash

Carnival Squash – Carnival squash has variegated patterns of orange and green colors and is a hybrid of the sweet dumpling squash and the acorn squash. When cooked its texture is soft and melting with a fragrant aroma and its flavor; slightly nutty, buttery, and sweet with nuances of maple syrup, similar to that of butternut squash. This squash has contains potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, as well as, some calcium, magnesium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Broccoli a taste for you this week.

Purple Cauliflower – a taste for you this week.

Purple CabbageWe hope you enjoy this garden delight. Here are some ways to use this vegetable.

cropped-gourds.jpgGourds – We have just started harvesting. Enjoy the beautiful colors.

 

Recipe of the Week

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

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Place batter in muffin liners that have been sprayed with cooking spray. This batter makes good muffins or good bread. Bake muffins for about 12 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pumpkin Bread

1 2/3 cup flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cold water

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin (I use 1 cup cooked squash)

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

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

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

4-H Vegetable Garden Project

4-H Vegetable Garden Project

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Above, Keith is meticulously setting up the vegetable garden project at the state fair. All the vegetables made it from home, across the fairgrounds to the 4-H state fair building with no damage.

As our family jumps into the school year, we have been reflecting back on our experiences this summer. One of which was both boys taking the 4-H vegetable garden project to the county fair, and Keith advancing to the state fair with this project. (A 4-Her needs to be a certain age and place in the state fair line-up to advance in any project area to the state fair.)

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Sam was happy he didn’t give up on selecting uniform vegetables to win the champion ribbon at the county fair. Sam was not old enough to advance to the state fair this year. He enjoyed his one on one interview with the judge. The recipe card in the box identifies which vegetables are in the box and the variety of that vegetable.

While both boys would say this is not their favorite general project to take, they would both tell you they learn a great deal of practical knowledge from the experience. There are countless project areas you can take in 4-H. We encourage the boys to take those that further their personal interest and ones that will provide practical knowledge and experience for their future.

Take-a-Ways

  1. Project Preparation – The requirements of the project are to bring 2 smaller varieties of vegetables (12 of each vegetable); 3 medium size varieties of vegetables (3 of each vegetable) and 1 larger variety of vegetable. Selecting them to be uniform and preparing them for display is quite the process. We are grateful we had experience showing in last year’s state fair open class show to see the variety of ways people transport their vegetables longer distances so they don’t get damaged.

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    It never fails that when the vegetables need to be harvested for a fair the boys come home from a long day of baseball or another 4-H event and have to persevere through vegetable selection. Let me tell you, that is not easy.

    2. Grateful for Learning Moments – When a 4-Her sits down with the judge, that is when they demonstrate their knowledge on their project. So the boys study the different varieties of vegetables they grew; why they chose that variety to plant; why they chose that vegetable in their display; planting date; days to harvest; what special growing needs that plant has; pests to that plant/crop; nutrition and uses of the vegetable once harvested. Trust me it is quite the conversation and preparation.

    3. Personal Growth – The judging at the county level is one on one. It is a great way to learn how to conduct yourself in that setting; learn how to communicate verbally and professionally. At the state fair, those that bring that project interview in a group setting with the judge. What a great opportunity to learn how an interview in this type of setting works; improve listening skills and to grow personal knowledge in that area. Keith seemed to really enjoy the conversational learning from the other 4-Her’s projects. Both experiences were extremely positive.

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    Keith’s state fair 4-H vegetable garden display which earned him a blue at the state fair. A job well done!

Moral of the story: Are hearts couldn’t be more proud and filled with more joy for him as we watched him grow and learn and stretch is area of knowledge. We are so very grateful for the opportunities that 4-H provides for both of our kids and many others to grow beyond what they expected.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Remember that 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.

Lettuce/Spinach – You have some Red Oak Lettuce and Spinach in your box. This next crop has been a real challenge to get going.

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Arugula – peppery flavored green leaf in your box.

Arugula – Arugula is a peppery, distinctive-tasting green that originated in the Mediterranean region. It’s also known as rucola, salad rocket, and Italian cress. Arugula is a member of the Brassica, or Cruciferous, family. This classification includes mostly cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. Arugula is delicious raw, and it can be used as a healthy add-on topping for pizza, nachos, sandwiches, and wraps. Learn more here.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

Radishes – These Cherry Belle Radishes are loving this colder weather. Here are some radish recipe ideas from Martha Stewart.

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The entire plant is edible – that includes the leaves. They serve this beet soup at church, and I love it.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi. Peel it and slice like an apple. Here are more ideas.

20190904_165054.jpgDragon Tongue Beans – This heritage variety of beans can be used like green beans. Enjoy the different color.

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – we will have cucumbers for a while. We hope you enjoy this healthy snack. Check out these refrigerator pickle recipes from Taste of Home.

Onion – Walla Walla onions in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions from America’s Heartland.

Egg Plant – Give it a try – three different varieties. Try Martha Stewart’s recipes.

Tomatoes – This crop is just taking off. A taste of a few cherry tomatoes and Fourth of July tomatoes this week. Here are a few recipe ideas from America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – The red Norlands are great for cooking. Some of you may have some younger potatoes in your boxes (smaller). I find that the potatoes right out of the garden often times cook and bake faster than others. Yeah – faster meal preparation!

Green Bell Peppers – The peppers are just taking off.

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Banana Peppers

Banana Pepper – I cut these up and freeze extra peppers for later in the year.

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Flower after flower will grow into a zucchini.

Summer Squash – Make these into noodles, sauté and more. Try making this or zucchini into noodles.

Red Kuri Winter Squash I fix it just like I do Butternut Squash. Cut it in half, place cut side down in cake pan, place about an inch of water in the pan, cover with aluminum foil, place in preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour. Take out of oven, peel the skin off, scoop out the seeds and enjoy. I mix with a ½ cup of butter and ¾ cup of brown sugar. Freeze extra in cupcake tins to use later on. Learn more here.

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Zinnias and Hostas.

Flowers of the Week – Zinnias, Hydrangeas and Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

Chocolate Red Kuri Pumpkin Pie
Makes for one deep-dish 9-inch pie

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1 3/4 cups red kuri puree
1 cup  heavy cream
2 eggs
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg(optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dark or milk Chocolate squares for garnish

Pie Crust
Cut together the following ingredients with a fork or pie cutter.
2 cups flour
1 cup Crisco
2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Then mix together and add to the dry ingredients.
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup of milk

Check out this Martha Stewart video on making a pie crust.

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) with the rack in the middle position.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until the whites and the yolks are homogenous, about 2 seconds. Add the remaining filling ingredients to the bowl and whisk well to combine. Make sure the eggs and cream are completely incorporated. Line a rimmed pie pan with the unbaked crust, then pour the filing.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking for 45-60 minutes, or until the filling has set. Make sure the filling doesn’t boil, so if your oven it very hot, you can reduce heat to 325°F (160°C) after only 10 minutes. 10 to 12 minutes before the end, place chocolate squares on top of the pie and allow to melt. Insert a knife or tooth pick in the middle of the pie, if comes out clean, it’s done!
4. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Then serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold.
Note: if you’re not familiar with red kuri squash, its bright orange flesh is easy to cook and tastes a bit like chestnut and sweeter than a pumpkin, so you don’t need to add as much sugar to your recipes.

Monumental Tasks

Monumental Tasks

This week we had some larger tasks to accomplish. Quite frankly, when you stepped back to look at them, it was quite easy to feel like these were monumental tasks that would take way to long. With the right attitude, encouragement and grit, they were accomplished with smiles and satisfaction in the end.

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Yes our selfie wasn’t that great, but we still had smiles after harvesting 200 pounds of cucumbers. Great for canning if anyone is interested.

On Friday, we harvested over 200 pounds of cucumbers. Some of which were used at my work’s 100th Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation picnic. It felt good for us to give back to the farmers I have the privilege to work for and with.

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I work for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation which is a membership organization which mission is to be an advocate for agriculture driven by the beliefs and policies of its members. Sam and I were happy to share some of our cucumbers with our members during the organizations Centennial Picnic this weekend.

The next day when Sam and I walked down to tie up the tomatoes so that they would continue to grow on the fence and not in the mud, we noticed that the previous day’s weather had encouraged quite the weed growth. First, we accomplished the tomato project – we smelled like tomatoes and our hands and arms were green.

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Weeding is not a fun task. Weed control is necessary for a healthy crop.

We knew that the tomatoes would be healthier and cleaner from this task. Sorry – no picture evidence of this – hands were to dirty to touch a camera. Second, we accomplished some weeding so the crops were not choking from all of the extra “friends” growing next to them.

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Weeded yellow onions.

The last monumental appearing task was weeding the yellow onions. I will admit, this got out of hand about a month ago, and no one had the time to dive into it. Well, Keith took on this task yesterday, and boy was he covered in mud and tired from this activity. His grin said it all. It looked awesome.

Lesson learned: While tasks may seem overwhelming and may feel they cannot be accomplished, set your mind to it, don’t give up and keep plugging away. When you are done and look back, what you have accomplished will feel so great. Your hard work will pay off.

Garden Science

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Funny things happen in nature – these cucumbers grew together and the tomato grew a nose.

Animal Update

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Remember that 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.

Lettuce/Spinach – You have some Red Oak Lettuce and Spinach in your box. This next crop has been a real challenge to get going.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The entire plant is edible – that includes the leaves. Here are some ideas from Martha Stewart on how to use your beets.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi. Peel it and slice like an apple. Here are more ideas.

Green Beans – This is the second round of green beans. If you want to pickle any, please let us know as we have dill that you can use.

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This is a unique flower on the peas. They are usually white. Once and a while, Mother Nature gives you something different. So we wanted to share it with you.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – We may get one more harvest from this crop. We do have a third crop growing.

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Believe it or not, cucumbers are a prickly crop to harvest. Yes, the stems and fresh cucumbers have little spikes on them that poke you.

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – we will have cucumbers for a while. We hope you enjoy this healthy snack.

Onion – You have one Walla Walla and one Yellow onion in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions from America’s Heartland.

Green Bell Peppers – The peppers are just taking off.

Banana Pepper – I have been cutting up and freezing the peppers with the intent to use them for recipes throughout the season.

Tomatoes – This crop is just taking off. A taste of a few cherry tomatoes and Fourth of July tomatoes this week.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes great for baked potatoes. Some of you may have some younger potatoes in your boxes (smaller). I find that the potatoes right out of the garden often times cook and bake faster than others. Yeah – faster meal preparation!

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Harvesting zucchini and summer squash.

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Flower after flower will grow into a zucchini.

Summer Squash – Make these into noodles, sauté and more. Try making this or zucchini into noodles.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors, the Peterson family, for contributing the sweet corn in this week’s box. Quick Tip: If you don’t eat all the sweet corn you have cooked, cut it off the cob and freeze it in a container. Reheat your frozen corn for your vegetable at another meal or use in a hot dish, salsa or a soup.

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Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Flowers of the Week – Zinnias and Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

Freezer Salsa

8 cups diced seeded peeled tomatoes (about 10 large)
2 medium green peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 cup white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
4-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or try a couple cloves of fresh garlic – season to taste)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper Directions

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring often.

Pour into small freezer containers. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Stir before serving. Yield: 10 cups.

Editor’s Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

Source: Taste of Home