IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK
Watermelon or Cantaloupe // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.
Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.
Slicer Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.
Tomatillos // Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They should last at least a week.
Sweet Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.
Shishitos or Cherry Bombs // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.
Curly or Lacinato Kale // Lasts at least a week if kept moist. Kale doesn’t taste as good once it’s dried out. Keep it in the crisper drawer of your fridge or loosely in a plastic bag to seal in the moisture.
Festival Winter Squash // Store winter squash in a cool, dry place and try to use within a week or two. Do not store in the fridge! This will cause it to spoil much more quickly.
Purple or Red Potatoes // Early in the season you will receive new potatoes which have not been cured. They can be stored just like you’d store regular potatoes, however they will not last as long at room temperature. Try to use within a few days or move to the fridge if you think it will take a couple weeks to use them.
Yellow Onions // Store along with your garlic and potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks. In the proper conditions, pure darkness and cool temperatures, they can store up to 6 months.
The fields are beginning to change right before our eyes. Beautiful stands of fall root vegetables that have been hidden under cover are emerging in perfect rows. Baby bok choys begin to stand tall. Elegant rows of lettuces hug the ground. Tomatillos grow heavy with the weight of hundreds of fruits just about ready for harvest. The fall beans begin to flower. The leeks, elegant as ever, become the center of attention as we walk by. We look out on the winter squash, plants now wilting and dying, and see hundreds of fruits on the ground. It’s the most vibrant this crop has ever looked for us, and we’re crossing our fingers for our first good winter squash year in five years.
Meanwhile, some of the staples we’ve been growing since late June are really beginning to wind down. The summer squash ended a couple weeks ago, the zucchini is winding down quickly. Cucumbers are still hanging on, but both their quality and quantity are beginning to decrease. We’ll likely be done harvesting them in a week or two. The eggplant, a stand out of this season so far in its production, has finally slowed. Instead of hauling in 300 pounds of eggplant each week, our three little beds will likely only yield 30-40 pounds which we’ll reserve first for restaurants and only bring you if it has no other home. The tomatoes are slowing, but they’re certainly not finished quite yet. The shallots and onions are out. The potatoes are up next.
The sweet corn was mowed early last week, and that sealed the deal for me that summer is nearing its end and fall is on its way in. We’re officially clearing the way for fall cover crops. We’re officially putting so many of our fields to bed for winter. The biggest focus of our weeks right now, outside of keeping up on the harvests, is seeding fall cover crops. A cover crop is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a crop that is intended to cover a bed or a field once there is no longer any harvestable crop there.
Once a bed or field is fully out of production (either because it stops producing altogether or because it is no longer has a high enough volume and/or quality to be worth our time), Kyle will mow down whatever remnants remained in that particular bed or field. For the onions, we removed everything so he was really only mowing down weeds. In a field like sweet corn, there are huge stalks to be mowed down. He generally does this work with our small walk behind tractor because it has a flail mower attachment. A flail mower doesn’t just mow down whatever was in the field, it essentially shreds or finely chops the plant matter so that it can break down faster in the fields.
In the earlier parts of the season, he would mow and we would often replant a crop in a space once it was done producing. This is something called double cropping and it is a very common practice on vegetable farms because of limited bed space and because it can be easier to maintain weeds in the same bed over a full year than in two separate spaces. The fall carrots now grow in our spring lettuce fields. The fall beans grow where our spring turnips and radishes were harvested from. Now that we have reached September, there isn’t much we can plant that will grow to full size this year so the focus is on turning beds over to cover crops.
After Kyle mows the crop down, he tills it in with our full-sized tractor, incorporating the plant matter and prepping the area for seeding. He plants cover crop with a broadcast seeder, a device much like what people use to seed their lawn. It throws seeds over a large area rather quickly and sits on the soil surface. He tries to time cover crop seeding before a heavy rain for this reason. A heavy rain will push the seed into the soil finishing our planting process more efficiently.
Right now, we’re seeding the same blend of cover crops in all our fields. It’s a mix of buckwheat, hardy alfalfa, red clover, alsike clover, and yellow blossom clover. The buckwheat grows fast, shading out weeds very effectively (something essential at our farm) to nurse the other gentler crops into being. Buckwheat is a very quick growing crop so we will mow it down before winter making way for the alfalfa and clover to really establish itself. The alfalfa and clovers are all legumes which means their main benefit is fixing nitrogen back into our soils that have been depleted of some nutrients with our intensive vegetable production. It will grow into the winter and even survive until spring if temperatures are mild enough. Either way, this great mix with do a great job of getting our fields ready for next year!
It’s a fun part of farming that we get to begin planning for next year in late summer. While we’re still dealing with some of our mistakes from the year prior, we can also begin to take action on them immediately. Vegetable farming is so cyclical and it’s so much more than just planting and harvesting. It’s a system that requires constant maintenance and thought. The more intention and time we put in this fall, the easier and better crops will grow next season. This is Kyle’s first year working fully on farm. He won’t be going to a seasonal job later this fall or his greenhouse gig in late January. He’ll be spending the next eight months preparing our farm for a better 2020 growing season. It’s such an exciting time for us, being able to spend more and more of our energy on our little seven acres and really begin to hone our craft.
As always, I hope you too are enjoying the ride.
P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.
VEGGIE ID: Shishito & Cherry Bombs ↑
The peppers on the left are shishito peppers. These peppers are a Japanese variety that became real trendy a few years back, but over time have proved they have staying power. The peppers are thin-skinned, crunchy and sweet, but the best thing about them is that they don't take much work. You don't need to seed them or even cut them at all.
I think these peppers are made for a vegetable skewer with some beef and onions, but most folks swear by just tossing them in a pan until blistered. Here is a great link that teaches you how to blister them and also shares a few great recipes. If you aren't feeling too creative or like learning a new veggie, don't distress, you can also chop them up and throw them in anything that calls for green peppers or mild chile peppers.
We don't grow a ton of these peppers (because if we did you'd wind up getting them every single week) so instead these beauties will be rotated through your CSA boxes until everyone gets some!
The peppers on the right are cherry bomb peppers. These are our favorite pepper that we grow and we’ve been scaling them up the past couple of years. We still don’t grow a ton because we know our members don’t love getting bags of hot peppers every week, but we’ll keep slipping some into CSA boxes throughout the season whenever we have extra.
Cherry bombs have a sweet mild heat. I think they are too hot to be eaten raw, but much better if added to a dish and cooked a bit. Add them to any dish that asks for a jalapeno or red pepper flakes. Start with half if you’re worried about the heat. You won’t be disappointed.
VEGGIE ID: Festival winter squash ↑
Pretty and tasty, Festival acorn squash are creamy colored with decorative green and orange stripes. This is our replacement for the delicata squash we loved so much but that performed poorly at our farm year after year. I also love these squash because they look so much like a decorative gourd. I keep them on my counter in a bowl until I’m ready to eat them and it brings a little touch of fall into our lives.
They are great squash because they are so little and “personal” sized. You can just cut one in half, remove the seeds, roast it up with olive oil or butter, and drizzle it with maple syrup for a quick snack. You can also stuff the halves with a more hearty filling for a full meal. Or you can slice it and roast it that way for a quick side. It’s also great tossed into stews, soups or chilis. Use this squash in any of these way or substitute for any recipe that calls for acorn or butternut squash.
VEGGIE ID: TomatilloS ↑
First and foremost, a tomatillo is not just an under-ripe tomato even though it does kind of look like that once you remove the husk. A tomatillo is a relative to the tomato and is sometimes known as a the Mexican husk tomato because of the way the fruit grows inside of a papery skin. It is a bit brighter, less sweet, and more acidic than a typical tomato.
To use them, you peel away the papery skin and give them a quick rinse under water since the skin of the actual fruit is always a bit sticky. Tomatillos are more commonly used in salsa verde (the green salsa often offered to you at Mexican restaurants). I love to use them this way or in a salad dressing with similar ingredients. Typically they are turned into a salsa or sauce of some kind.
Understanding tomato blemishes ↑
I mentioned is last week’s CSA email that the tomatoes are beginning to go down hill. It’s very common for tomatoes to begin going down in quality after 5 weeks. The fruits are still great to eat but there are a couple things to watch for.
On the left you will see some yellowing on the top of the fruit. This is called sun scald. It is very common for tomatoes to have sun scald on their tops after 5 weeks of production because at this point in the growing season, all of the tomato leaves have died off and there is nothing left to shade the ripening tomatoes. We remove the worst sun scald fruits when we clean tomatoes each week and give them to our restaurants as “seconds” or discounted damaged produce. However, since we are moving towards the end of the tomato season, we will begin to give you tomatoes with just a touch of yellowing. There is nothing wrong with these tomatoes. They will still taste delicious. We recommend just trimming the yellow portion off when you core the tomato since that portion rarely develops much delicious tomato flavor.
On the right you will see the effects of a tomato disease we get every year around this time. It is called anthracnose and it is a fungal disease that causes certain varieties of tomatoes to rot faster. Again, it is a common occurrence in organic tomatoes and is absolutely fine to eat. It is a disease that makes the tomato decay faster. It does not do anything to your body.
The photo above is just for reference. We will NEVER give you a tomato that looks like that. Any tomatoes with that much damage will be tossed into the compost. However, anthracnose is present in some of our tomatoes at this point of the season and can’t always be seen at harvest. A tomato may look perfect but due to anthracnose, decay very quickly on your counter. At this point in the season, we recommend using CSA tomatoes within 2-3 days. This means using them within 2-3 days if you plan to eat them raw OR cooking with them in 2-3 days. The disease will not spread or have any effect in a cooked product.
IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK
You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week
Slicer and/or Heirloom Tomatoes
Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers
Festival or Acorn Winter Squash
KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER
Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance.
Roasted Potato Salad with Kale
2# unpeeled potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Seasonings, as desired
3 stalks kale, stem removed and roughly chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3-4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked, drained and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons seasoning of your choice (my mom uses a mix of season salt, garlic salt and pepper). Roast potatoes for 35 minutes in a preheated oven until edges begin to brown and potatoes are tender.
2. Add kale to pan, toss to coat with oil and seasonings, and roast 10 minutes longer. In a small bowl, combine mayo, yogurt, mustard and parsley. Add bacon and onion.
3. Allow potatoes and kale to cool slightly. Toss with dressing, stir to coat. Adjust seasonings as needed/desired.
Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion, Simplified // Uses Tomatoes, Onion, feel free to add Garlic or 1 of any of the Peppers you received this week // If you are feeling sick of tomatoes, it’s time to freeze some! I love this super simple sauce and after pureeing, it freezes great in bags or wide mouth mason jars.
Vegetarian, Vegan if you substitute olive oil for butter, Gluten-Free
Acorn Squash Quesadilla with Tomatillo Salsa // Uses Onion, Tomatillos, sub Festival Squash for Acorn Squash, skip poblanos and jalapenos and use whatever Peppers you received this week // I’ve been just waiting for the day we pulled off growing tomatillos and winter squash together so I could share this perfect summer meets fall recipe.
Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortillas)
Summer Gazpacho // Use Sweet Pepper, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Sub Onion for the Shallots (unless you still have the Shallot lying around), add Cantaloupe or Watermelon // Gazpacho used to seem weird to me. Cold pureed vegetable soup? Sure, it used half of the CSA veggies in one recipe but still a bit odd. THEN I began adding cantaloupe and watermelon to my gazpacho and it change everything. Make this recipe exactly as written but then add 3-4 cups of cubed, seeded cantaloupe. It will change everything.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions & Parsley // Uses Potatoes, Onions, skip the Parsley // I think perhaps we should all start having boiled potatoes in our fridge all the time because then you can make mashed potatoes, potato salad or my new favorite SMASHED POTATOES (!!!) in 5-10 minutes flat. I made these on the grill Sunday and they were like crispy dinner hash browns in all the best ways. One word of warning: boil the potatoes whole regardless of the size and then quarter or halve the largest ones before "smashing" for best results.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Kale Peanut Salad // Uses Kale, skip the cucumbers, radishes and scallions, sub in Sweet Peppers, Carrots from last week, and thinly sliced Onion instead // My very favorite kale salad. You could just eat the kale with peanuts and peanut dressing all year long. Honest. But it’s even better when topped with whatever random veggies you have in your fridge and want to use up.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free
Huevos Rancheros with Blistered Salsa Roja // Uses Cherry Tomato (or diced Tomatoes), Onion, sub whatever Hot Pepper you received for the jalapeno, add sauteed kale to the tortilla broiling step, add thinly sliced Onions to the top // It’s the sixth week of tomatoes in your CSA boxes. It is time to make SALSA!!! And then eat them with tortillas and eggs for breakfast.
Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortilla)
Blistered Shishito Peppers with Browned Butter, Lemon & Parmesan // Shishito Peppers // I love shishitos pretty much any which way, but this was the first recipe I ever made with shishito peppers and it introduced me to their complexity and delicate flavor. They have been a favorite ever since. Thanks Food Network for encouraging me to toss my vegetables in butter and cheese.
Spicy Southwestern Quinoa Bowl // Uses Kale, Tomatillos, sub Festival Squash for sweet potatoes, sub Hot Peppers, add Cherry Tomatoes or Diced Tomatoes // I love a good grain bowl. This one is perfect for early September.
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Baked Squash Mac & Cheese // Uses Festival Squash, Yellow Onions, add in some sauteed Kale and whatever Peppers you feel like // Even though you only got 1-2 squash this week, I still love this recipe for this box and think you should make it anyway. You can absolutely half your squash to have more to stuff, but who really cares if you wind up with some extra mac & cheese left over. Enjoy!
Caramelized Onion & Balsamic Tomato Tarts // Uses Onion, Cherry Tomatoes // Yes, I admit this recipe is totally and completely over the top, but it is also so gosh dang delicious if you happen to have a spare moment this weekend and wanted a foodie project to fill your time, here it is!