Just A Dab

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We have been in Harvest Time since last May as you well know–but this colorful guy is Seasonal. In the boxes: White potatoes, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, zucchini or perhaps patty pan squash, colorful bell peppers, individual spaghetti winter squash, and perhaps eggplant or tomatoes.

I try to put similar sized potatoes and sweet potatoes in boxes in order to make for consistent preparation. If you get small ones this week, they should be larger next time.

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The late sun makes any zucchini we are fortunate enough to harvest as sweet as sugar. If you have not yet made a shredded zucchini salad, now is the time to give it a try.

Just a dab of peppers?  Slice thinly and roast with a drizzle of olive oil in the oven. While waiting, make a cup of quinoa and open a can of black beans–drain and rinse. Mix the roasted peppers, quinoa, and beans together with a some finely diced onion, a couple of TBSP of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. This dish has plenty of protein and fiber, but is short on calories and fat!

Tomatoes can always be tossed into a salad. If you would rather make a side dish, open a can of chickpeas and drain. Dice the tomato to your desired size.  Heat finely diced garlic cloves in 2 TBSP of olive oil until the garlic starts to get color, then add the tomatoes and chickpeas and heat through!

With a couple of exceptions, the veggie boxes will end on October 31–BOO!! Trust this does not SCARE you!

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Stuff? Or Grill?

The seasons are changing once again which means the flowers in my yard are changing! Look at my brilliant Sedum Autumn Joy. A gift from a dear friend many years ago.

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Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes–especially this time of the year. If your box has zucchini or patty pans larger than you are accustomed to seeing, you have two choices: stuff them or get out the grill and put some char marks on them. Either way they will be sweet–really! The Autumn sun makes the late summer squash and zucchini much sweeter in taste. At least that is what my taste buds tell me. Then again, I try to not eat sugar, so my idea of sweet may be a bit skewed.

Boxes this week have been similar to the past ones. Some will find the first sample sweet potatoes in the mix. If you happen to get small or skinny sweet potatoes, we recommend you skin them and roast them in the oven. Butter if you want, or put nothing at all on them! You will discover the roasting brings out a special sweetness in this veggie, too.

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We are about to get through the tomatoes. I have tried to give everyone some green ones for those people who like “fried green tomatoes” once a year! And don’t forget the simplest meals can sometimes be the best. Like this fried egg with sides of roasted peppers and diced tomatoes. Yum!

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We are confident we will continue the CSA through the entire month of October–just in case anyone is wondering. However, November may be a selective situation this season. More later on this.

NC Sweet Potatoes Have A Commission!

We keep checking the sweet potatoes. They are still growing and the garden is still quite muddy from the recent rains. You may find a few in your box later this week. If so, they will be small so you may choose to roast them. In the meantime, here is a great event and web connection you might want to preview in order to whet your appetite.

http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/hispanic-dishes-english-version/

In the boxes: Kennebec potatoes and red potatoes, cabbage, patty pan squash and perhaps zucchini and eggplant, sweet, colorful bell peppers and tomatoes. The tomatoes may be green. Fried Green Tomatoes?!

 

Fajita Time

Irma brought us four inches of rain in the past few days. The creek is high and the puddles are deep! Don’t worry about the gardens. We have a tall berm between the creek and the fields! It would be nice if we could have several days of sunshine now. I realize the power is still off for many (us, too) and trees across the roads have made travel difficult. We appreciate the effort being made to get to the pickup sites to retrieve  your CSA Veggies boxes! We will work with you–our CSA Members.

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We see a beautiful crop of sweet potatoes in the field. The above ground plants are filled with bumble bees and the roots beneath are still growing! It would have been lovely to have them harvested before Irma blew in but that was not destined to be. The only winter squash which we think we will have this year are the spaghetti squash. The fruits are rather small compared to a typical year and they are still growing. We will sample to see when they are mature enough to harvest, but again, several days of sunshine would be a blessing as the ditches run water out of the gardens.

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If you have eggplant and no electricity, here is a recipe for Zaalouk which requires only a grill!  http://wlos.com/community/carolina-kitchen/carolina-kitchen-zaalouk

In the boxes this week:  Kennebec potatoes and red potatoes, cabbage, a couple of cukes, patty pan squash and perhaps zucchini and eggplant. (Eggplant is a tropical plant, you must realize. They do not like the cool temperatures! But on last inspection, the plants looked good.) Also, sweet, colorful bell peppers and tomatoes. Fajita time?! The oblong, heirlooms are ready when they are orange. Inside they will be red, however, they are not a juicy tomato–they are “meaty.” And they may look a bit wrinkly with time as they are used for drying!

This is not a feel good story, nonetheless, it is a story which needs to be told.

Officials inspect only about 1 percent of imported food, which could be tainted with biological or chemical agents before entering the United States. And, food manufacturers, packers or distributors, are more likely to be hit by lightning than be inspected by the FDA.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/09/publishers-platform-she-said-he-said-weve-been-warned/#.WblWldFryUk

And now a pretty picture to help you feel better! My son took this in the front yard.

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Our Hearts Go Out

Our hearts go out to the people of Texas and Louisiana who have been thrown into such chaos and devastation. Fortunately, the worst of Mother Nature often brings out the best of Human Nature. If there is one thing we learn from natural disasters like this, it is how little control we have.

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Being farmers we are well aware of how much we are at the mercy of the weather. Tropical storm remnants which make their way to WNC have ended more than one harvest season. If you drive down Cane Creek Road this week, you will see the tomato farmers hard at work getting their crops out of the fields before the rains which are predicted for this Thursday night thru Saturday morning. They get their annual income all in one to two weeks–Harvest Time.

For now our multi-crop vegetable gardens are still going. We have had a few nice days, but more rain will be hard on them. I don’t usually peel all of the skin off of my cucumbers, but rain will cause them to look ugly and this will be necessary. I understand local cukes are becoming rare in Buncombe County. I am not sure why we are still successfully growing. Perhaps the variety we planted? It is a specialty seed. We buy it because we think the flavor is superior to all others we have tried.

You may have noticed fewer zucchini in the last week. Then this week, another group of plants started producing. Waves–we plant in waves to keep going as long as possible. All of the potatoes are out of the ground and safely under cover. Next the sweet potatoes! You will be finding them in your CSA Boxes soon–God willing.

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Our sunflowers stand in the garden turning their faces to the sun and bringing in the bees and yellow finches and other birds. Their songs have a lovely melody and make a beautiful backdrop to the garden labors. Even the weeds are alive with bees and insects!

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As I drive around the area, I take notice of restaurants which come and go. I am reminded of how fickle we humans are about our food choices. I am grateful for the loyalty of our CSA Members who agree to purchase our veggies for as long as we are able to supply them from our gardens. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

CSA Boxes now will have russet potatoes, cabbages–red and/or green, cucumbers, patty pan squash, green and yellow zucchini, perhaps the last of the green beans–depending on the coming rainfall, sweet bell peppers in two varieties, eggplant–-traditional and/or Japanese depending on the day’s harvest, and tomatoes.

Take care of yourselves. And take care of each other!

August Ending

I love hearing from CSA Members about how you are preparing your veggies and how happy you are with them! And how you are learning to love some veggie that you always thought you hated ie: eggplant! (Try the Smoky Eggplant Dip.)

I always say, “If you love our veggies, tell everyone. If you have a problem, tell me!” I do my best to make sure only good quality vegetables are put into the boxes, however, a great many cukes, squash, etc. have passed through my hands–and we are just getting started with the tomatoes. Please, if ever you receive something of poor quality on Day One, let me know immediately!

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We snapped a photo of at least one of our neighborhood bears the other night. It is difficult to tell how big he is. I say “he” because of the paw prints left on my front door and the windows on either side. The turkeys will “fight” their reflection in these windows and I assume the bear will react the same way–either that or he is checking out what’s for dinner!

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We have no shortage of wildlife on our property. The deer are quite fond of the heirloom apple trees this time of the year.

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The turkeys are always around, too. Their babies are gangling poults now. Several seem to have survived the chick stage of early summer. This is a feat alone as there is a pack of coyotes nearby. We can hear them howl whenever a siren goes by. Welcome to our Wildlife Sanctuary!

Just when we think we cannot take one more day of the blazing heat and humidity, the temps cool off into the 70’s and we can breathe easy again. The potatoes and late plantings of cucumbers are impressive. 🙂 The melons and winter squash less so. 😦 It is impossible to analyze all of the variables to determine why the various crops turn out the way they do. We just do our best with what Mother Nature sends our way in any given season!

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In the box look for another round of Kennebec potatoes–they are white. Also, cabbage–the heads are small, but it seems many people like them that way! Cukes and patty pan squash–either small or “stuffing” size. Try the stuffing method if you have not yet done so! We are not getting many zucchini now, but the peppers are turning vibrant colors and they are all as sweet as can be. And a variety of eggplant and tomatoes are to be found. The tomatoes are small this year. The oblong ones are an heirloom variety. They will look orange on the outside, but be more red on the inside. And they are “meaty” vs. “juicy.”

 

 

 

Boxes?

We started the season with over three, labeled CSA Boxes for each member. Today our supply is running quite low. I know some members never even take the box, but rather grab the bag and go. However, if you are one who has extra boxes in your garage or panty, please return them on your next veggie pickup. If you have destroyed a box, as an alternative, you may return a clean milk box for us to use for delivering your vegetables.

Like all days, Saturday was busy for us. What was different was that we accidentally ripped our garage door off of its tracks. It has some age on it and I prepared myself to have to replace it. I placed a call to Precision Garage Door Service and to my amazement they came to the house and had repaired it within 3.5 hours. It is actually better than ever! We are so thankful for the timely, efficient service. The neighborhood bear who frequents our property was hoping for a free night in the garage not doubt. We dodged a bullet on this event.

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Looking for a new way to prepare the patty pan squash? Try stuffing them. First hallow our the insides, then chop what you removed and add onions, pepper, tomato, eggplant, garlic–whatever veggie you want along with some sea salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Fill and bake in a 350 degree oven until just tender. Delicious served either hot or cold!

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One word of caution. Use proper technique when cutting out the summer squash. This photo represents a safe cutting technique.

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And this photo represents a dangerous cutting technique. They can be slippery to handle and the tendency is to spread out the hand to hold; but no one needs a slice to the hand!

Dangerous technique

In our farm’s micro climate it has been raining every day for over a week. This coming week looks much the same. Moisture on such a constant basis with no sunshine is hard on our plants and any vegetables which are produced. If some veggie does not last as long as it did earlier in the season, it is safe to blame the excessive rain!

Meanwhile, your CSA Box this week will have white (golden) specialty potatoes, cabbages–red and/or green, cucumbers, patty pan squash, green and yellow zucchini, tender green beans, sweet bell peppers and eggplant–traditional and/or Japanese, depending on the day’s harvest. Our tomatoes are a late variety (and like sunshine). Perhaps next week they will make an appearance.