CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 18

Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 18

GARDEN NEWS:

Things have cooled down quite a bit—and the spinach I planted last week is up now. The rains of late have slowed the ripening of some warm weather crops, and hastened the growth of the greens.

Every year about this time, I tend to get a little frustrated and overwhelmed and say I’m not going to do the CSA again next year. This year is no exception, but instead of going back and forth on it as I did up until this past spring (when I ended up with ten members!), I have decided that I will not offer CSA shares in the 2009 season.

I figure after four years, I’ve proven it can be done, but I honestly would not recommend anyone trying it on their own. Though I have had some help from Harry and a few members and friends throughout the past four seasons, the vast majority of work I’ve accomplished on my own, and that has meant being tied to the gardens for six or seven months out of the year. I’m not complaining; I’m just a little burned out!

However, I’m not quitting farming altogether. We are currently planning to turn the bulk of the country gardens into fruit orchard (though I will reserve a little space for extra tomatoes). My next exciting project is learning about and experimenting with urban/suburban edible landscaping techniques and applying them in my yard here in town. My hope is that, after a season or two, I will have learned enough to help others turn their grassy lawns into mini-farms!

THIS WEEK’S DELIVERY:

Purple Peruvian potatoes, tomatoes, basil, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and leeks. A couple of members will receive eggplant, and I’ll be putting eggplant in the rest of deliveries as they come along in size.

These Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes are heirlooms, and according to my research, one of only two varieties that can be directly traced to their Andean origins (the other is called “Ozette”). As fingerlings, they cook very quickly, and are best scrubbed and roasted whole or in chunks (sprinkled with oil and salt) at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes. They might be even better accompanied with a few thin slices of leek!

A few more hot peppers this week—both Hungarian Hot Wax and Bulgarian Carrot. They keep well (as do sweet peppers) cut in small chunks and stored in the freezer.

The leeks are my favorite long-season crop—these are, as always, Blue Solaise—an old French heirloom bred for overwintering. It has been hard for me to overwinter them, though—they’re too tasty to let sit out in the garden for long!

Leeks are a dirty crop! The best way to clean them up is to cut off the dark blue green tops (also called “flags”), rinse them and stow in the freezer for soup stock. Then, cut off the roots slightly above where they join the stem. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and soak/rinse in cold water to get all the grit out from between the layers.

Leek Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup of chopped leeks (the white part).
1 cup of milk.
2/3 cup of water.
¼ cup of cream.
3 tablespoons of butter.
1 teaspoon of chicken stock.
1 medium potato, boiled.
Chopped chives, to garnish.

Preparation Instructions:

In a suitably sized skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the leeks in the skillet for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the water; then bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and cream.
Add the potato after mashing, or put it in a blender at low speed.
from http://www.leekrecipes.org

Caramelized Leeks over Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium leeks
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soya margarine
  • 1/2 Tbsp dark brown soft sugar
  • 5 ounces (150 g) noodles
  • 2 heaping Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Split the leeks lengthways and wash each layer thoroughly. Slice across into thin strips, including the green part.

Heat the olive oil and margarine together over a gentle heat. When the margarine has melted, add the leeks and toss well. Cook slowly, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the leeks start to soften.

Sprinkle over the sugar. After a couple more minutes, mix well. Continue to cook for 15 to 30 minutes, until the leeks have begun to collapse into a sticky mass. Add small amounts of hot water if required to stop sticking.

While the leeks are cooking, cook and drain the noodles.

When the leeks are done, add the parsley, olive oil, cooked noodles, and seasoning to taste. Toss well and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

From:http://homecooking.about.com

If you got an eggplant this week, you may want an idea of what to do with it! Try cutting it in chunks and roasting it in the oven with tomatoes and fresh basil, and serving it over pasta or rice. You can also try slicing it lengthwise, seasoning or marinating, and grilling or broiling it like a “steak.”

Remember to

WASH YOUR VEGGIES!

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2 responses

  1. There goes my nefaroius plan to wheedle and bribe my way into your CSA next spring.

    I’m really sorry to hear that you’re ending it although as a former writing instructor, I can certainly understand an educator not wanting to have another hamster wheel besides teaching to be running upon..

    Was your CSA the only one in the Vermillion area? If so, what do you think is keeping others from developing? I know labor is a perennial problem. I’m aware of some organic farmers in Minnesota that handle it by getting interns who want to learn organic farming, but I’ve no idea if that would work in SE SD.

  2. Kelly–

    Thanks for the comment! Bribe, huh? Hmmm.

    Just kidding.

    Dakota Rural Action is working to help small sustainable farms get interns. They’ve asked me to be on their Land Stewardship Committee–another exciting project to take on!

    I had thought about getting an intern, but wasn’t sure logistically how it would work, being that the housing out on the farm is pretty substandard at this point. We don’t even stay there much anymore.

    So, I will be working on land use issues and still doing as much farming as I can–though in a different way. And, of course, continuing to be a booster for the Vermillion Area Farmers Market.

    Yes, my CSA was the only one in Vermillion. But that doesn’t mean it was the only place to get local produce–lots of good stuff at the farmers market, some of which is even certified organic!

    –Rebecca

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