Weekly Share

The rain came down on Tuesday but thanks to a big effort on Monday rototilling and making beds, we were ready for the storm. Today was spent in a monumental weeding and planting push. The butternut and delicata winter squash finally went in, as well as dill, more lettuce, fennel, basil, beets and green beans. There is still lots of catching up to be done in the weeding department, but we’re getting there!

Before and After: Winter Squash!

For one week only, some beautiful sweet broccoli makes an appearance in the share. We’ll see more of this cool weather loving crop in the fall!

CSA Share, week 5, 6/12/12

The summer crops are growing well- we are starting to see little itty bitty cucumbers, the watermelon vines are sprawling across the aisles, the tomatoes are growing in leaps and bounds and the basil is almost ready to pick!

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

Basil, Potato Flowers and Greenhouse Tomatoes

And of course, it’s just the beginning of the summer squash harvest! We are very happy to announce a new addition to the farm- a conveyor belt! Picking squash is back-breaking work. But especially so when you have to haul a bin along with you as you search and pick amongst the plants. With the conveyor belt, this step is eliminated. You still have to bend over and pick, but now you stand and put the squash on the conveyor belt, where it heads for the farm cart and a sorter who packs it into the bins. We can’t wait to use it on cucumbers and watermelons!

Harvesting summer squash using a conveyor belt.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

A farmers plea: Enough rain already. Seriously. The storms can pass Blooming Glen by. Our plants are waterlogged and stressed, the farmers are muddy and stressed, our stressed seedlings want to get planted but the fields are too muddy to plow and make beds. Nothing has been planted for two and a half weeks now. Come on sunshine, shine on Blooming Glen Farm (for at least two weeks, please, because that’s what we need to dry out these fields!!)

CSA Share week 4, 6/5/12

Despite all the rain, the strawberries seem to be holding out for a fourth week of picking. Here at the farm I have discovered a new, refreshing way to enjoy, and preserve, the fleeting strawberry season. The best thing about this method is that you don’t need the most pristine fruit- which is perfect for rained on berries! It’s a beverage called a Strawberry Shrub.

Shrubs were popular in Colonial times, as a way to preserve fruit before refrigeration was possible. Vinegar based drinks were long ago used by farmers as a way to quench their thirst during hay season (and perhaps to soothe the nerves with a little rum added during rainy stretches!). Last summer I discovered and fell in love with the vinegar-based drink, the switchel, even more so after seeing its mention in Little House on the Prairie.

After hearing about shrubs (the drink, not the plant), I’ve been wanting to try making it myself. A shrub is a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar that is traditionally mixed with water to create a drink that is both sweet and tart.

Looking online, there seems to be two methods: cold-brew and stove-top. The cold-brew method, which in contrast to a stove-top method, supposedly keeps the fruit flavor pure and bright. Well, I decided to try both and see for myself. The cold-brew technique most definitely kept the integrity of the strawberry flavor better and the end result was a gorgeous strawberry red! So that’s the recipe you’ll find below.

Strawberry Shrub

Strawberry Shrub

Take one part sugar to one part strawberries. (This could be 1 cup fruit to 1 cup sugar, if you like). Cover the quartered fruit with sugar, stir to combine and stash in your fridge for a 5-6 hours, up to a few days. Your fruit should be surrounded by a thick juicy syrup.

Strain the syrup from the solids (press onto the fruit to get any extra juice out), scraping any excess sugar out of the bowl and into the syrup. *That leftover fruit will be really sweet, but a great icecream or pound cake topper!

Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar to the syrup (or equal parts depending on how much fruit and sugar you started with). I like to use Bragg’s raw organic apple cider vinegar, which has a lot of reported health benefits. A little internet surfing also turned up a few balsamic vinegar based strawberry shrubs, so feel free to experiment.

Whisk to combine the vinegar and syrup. Put in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate. Check and shake it periodically. After about a week the acids in the juice and vinegar will dissolve all the sugar. My guess is that the shrub will keep for months in your fridge, if you can resist it for that long!

Now how to use a shrub? To make a delicious drink, take 1-2 tablespoons of the shrub mixture and place it in a glass. Pour in tonic or sparkling water. (I was happy with 2 tablespoons shrub to a pint jar glass of seltzer). Add spirits if desired. The resulting drink will be a pale pink in color. Enjoy!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

This week’s share has a few new crop additions: fennel, bok choy and kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a close relative of broccoli- “kohl” meaning cabbage, and “rabi” meaning turnip. It is excellent cooked or raw. The leaves are also edible, and can be used like other greens. They make a wonderful slaw with fennel and turnips. Check out last season’s blog recipe

CSA Share, week 2, 5/29

Thunderstorms and heavy rain swept through the farm this past weekend and early this week, leaving the fields waterlogged. We are starting to get backed up on transplanting, as it is just too wet to work up the soil and make beds for planting. Our crew has been busy working on tomato trellising in the greenhouses.

The fields are soggy but inside the greenhouses is dry.

The crops that are in the ground, however, are soaking up the water and growing inches every day.

Super-sized escarole on the left, and napa cabbage on the right.

Looking ahead, the sugar snap peas will be ready for picking next week, the summer squash is almost there, and the string beans have little baby beans emerging from their blossoms.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

This week’s share sees the appearance of escarole, a bitter green often used in polenta or soups, most famously “Italian Wedding Soup”.  A CSA member kindly brought us a sample of his family’s recipe for this old favorite. I can’t wait for dinner tonight! Last years blog featured Jana’s version of this soup.

We also have a treat for this week- pea shoots. These shoots are grown in seedling trays on tables in our greenhouse, a labor intensive process, but well worth the early spring taste of peas. Speaking of peas, the sugar snaps are growing in leaps and bounds- they grew almost a foot over the weekend. Jill can hardly keep up with the trellising!

CSA Share week 2, 5/22/12

Week two at the farm brings passing thunderstorms. We have been busy planting between the showers. Crops going in the ground include watermelons, eggplant, green beans, and flowers. We have spotted the first small summer squash- it won’t be long before we enjoy these tasty treats.

Overheard in the distribution room were recipes being swapped, new friends being made and old friends reconnecting back at the farm after a winter away. There were also plenty of smiles leaving the strawberry field!

Week 24, CSA harvest 47 and 48! At our end of the year dinner with our crew, we reflected back on the season, everyone sharing their best and worst memories. Almost all the worst memories had something to do with the endurance required to harvest in extremes, which this season seemed to have plenty of, whether it be picking cherry tomatoes in stifling hot rows, bereft of any breeze, or harvesting kale in the frosty morning, bone-chilling, temperatures. The fondest memories ranged from eating big juicy watermelon out in the field, mastering cultivation between beds, screenprinting farm t-shirts (taking orders soon!) and generally cooking and eating the harvest. Collectively, we remembered the late spring hail (the first we’ve ever seen at the farm), the summer drought, high temperatures and (minor) earthquake, over two feet of fall record-breaking rains, and an October nor’easter. What a year!  As one CSA member said, “it’s time to stick a fork in this season and call it done.”
Or as Robert Frost wrote,
“For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.”

November 8, 2011

In this week’s share you’ll find escarole. Don’t mix it up with your head lettuces. Escarole is a bitter green best used in cooking- a wonderful addition to a fall soup. Last Friday and this Tuesday’s share received a 1/2 pound bag of pea shoots, the result of a successful experiment. As soon as we saw that there would be losses in the field, we brainstormed things we could grow in the greenhouses. Pea shoots are grown in flats on tables. Somewhat labor intensive and using lots of soil mix (each flat only yields about 1.5 to 2 pounds), farms typically receive from $8 to $11 a pound from either farmer’s markets or restaurants for the tender little pea shoots. We are happy to be able to round out the last few CSA shares with this delicious addition. Check out this week’s recipe for some ideas for what to do with them.

Growing and harvesting pea shoots.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

A whopping six inches of heavy snow fell on the farm this weekend… a first for the end of October, but considering the fall we’ve had, not all that surprising. A few crops that we thought we might have for this week and next are buried under snow (arugula) or just didn’t hold up to the hard freeze (swiss chard). But thanks to the high tunnels, we have bok choy, head lettuce and greens. Next week is the last pick-up of the season: Tuesday, November 8th and Friday, November 11th.

November 1, 2011

In the share this week are a few new crops you may not be familiar with.

The watermelon radish when sliced looks just like a watermelon with a green rind and rosy pink interior.  The color intensifies with a splash of vinegar.  Gorgeous in a salad raw, this radish can also be roasted, added to stir fries, sautéed, added to stews, or even boiled and mashed (peel the skin first). Milder than most radishes, it is actually slightly sweet with a nice crisp bite when raw. The watermelon radish is an heirloom variety of the Daikon.

In the squash family there is a choice of cheese pumpkin, blue hubbard squash and butternut.

A classic pumpkin of the 19th century, the Long Island Cheese pumpkin was likely named for its shape and color, which bring to mind a wheel of dairy-fresh cheese. The name may also come from the colonial practice of making “pumpkin cheese”, a somewhat sweet preserve (or what we would call pumpkin butter) from squashes that do not store well. This pumpkin has a sweet flesh that’s good for baking.

The Blue Hubbard winter squash is believed to have originated in the West Indies, and first arrived in Marblehead, Massachusetts in the 1700’s. It is described as “starchy, dry, thick, flaky, floury, melting, nutty and fine-textured with a brilliant orange flesh”. It has excellent storage properties. When kept in a cool place (around 50°) it will last for a few months. It is delicious in pies, for which it is best known, but it can also be cut into serving size pieces and baked or steamed. Because of its grainy texture, it is often mashed or pureed with butter and seasonings before serving. You can bake it whole, or if it is too large, cut it, or break it by putting it in a big plastic bag and dropping it on the ground. Excellent source of Vitamin A and contains fair amounts of iron and riboflavin.

The butternut squash has the longest storage potential of all squash. The butternut has a bright orange, moist flesh with a nutty flavor and a tan exterior skin and bulbed end. It is very versatile for cooking. Bake in sections in oven with skin on, or peel off the skin, cube and boil, then blend into soup.

Saturday's snowy harvest.

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

In your share this week is a 1/2 a pound of golden shallots. Shallots are like a sophisticated onion- one with a more delicate and sweet garlicky flavor. They are wonderful in risotto or roasted alongside a chicken then used as a base for gravy, or carmelized and paired with roast beef. This week’s recipe features roasted butternut with sage and shallots.
A fresh bunch of tasty arugula is in the share for another week- this is a green that doesn’t mind the cold nights. I picked up some wonderful Petite Seckle pears at the Headhouse Farmers Market this weekend, and have been enjoying them in an arugula and goat cheese salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious!

October 25, 1011

As the CSA winds down, I want to draw your attention to some of the many hands that helped to bring your veggies from the field to your dinner plate. Not only is there our regular crew of folks who are here five days a week out in the fields, but there is our wash crew that comes in once a week, either Tuesday or Friday morning during the 24 week harvest season. Always with a smile, they don their rubber overalls to help wash, dunk, spray, refresh and generally remove mud and dirt.

Meghan, Donna, Stephanie, and Dale: washers extraordinaire!

Meghan, an employee at Whole Foods, has been our wash queen for 4 years now, Donna joins us for year two, and Stephanie started this Spring. My dad (Dale, Pop-Pop, or Mr. B, depending) is a “pinch hit washer”- when he’s not mowing, building or fixing things, cleaning up after all of us, or playing with his granddaughter, he’s washing, or generally doing whatever we need him to do on any given day. Thanks wash crew- we appreciate what you do!

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

This week’s share photo is on the green end of the color spectrum- lots of wonderful nutritious and delicious greens like spinach, arugula, head lettuce and cabbage, as well as green cauliflower, peppers and leeks. During those wet weeks on the farm, thanks to Farmer Tom’s quick thinking we got busy planting the greenhouses, so that’s why we have that gorgeous bunch of spinach this week. It is especially tender from being coddled indoors. Take advantage of the edible flowers in the Discovery Garden and spice up your salad- we are expecting a frost any day now! On that note, the hot peppers freeze really well on a cookie tray, and can then be stored whole in freezer bags for that mid-winter spicy chili. So even if you have enough now, plan ahead for those cold winter months!

October 18, 2011

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Thanks to all the volunteers who split garlic bulbs at the fall fest, we planted 17 beds of garlic yesterday (that’s over 20,000 cloves!) before this next little round of rain. The share this week introduced the first sweet potatoes of the season (overall yields are down, but the ones we have are delicious!!), as well as a choice of delicata or butternut squash.

October 11, 2011

For those wondering what the heck is up with the gold cauliflower, it is a variety aptly named “cheddar” that holds up well in the field and becomes even brighter orange when lightly cooked. For those who don’t know- to get a classic white cauliflower, growers band the leaves around the head of the plant, which keeps the sun off of it, and gives it that snowy white appearance. Needless to say, we do not go to that trouble, and thought it would be fun to try the gold variety. Here’s the story behind it, as noted in Territorial Seed catalog: “An orange cauliflower! First discovered in the Bradford Marsh in Canada in 1970, Cheddar was smaller and less tasty than white cauliflower, but the color was alluring. Over the years, using conventional breeding techniques, it was crossed with a white variety to create a delicious, high vitamin content cauliflower. The curds contain approximately 25 times more beta carotene than white cauliflower. Excellent flavor and color whether eaten raw or cooked. ” The other choice in the share with the Cheddar cauliflower is Romanesco cauliflower, the small green spirals. It has a delicious nutty flavor.

The Fall Fest was a wonderful event…from potato sack races to contra dancing, scarecrow making and pie tasting, everyone seemed to enjoy the unusually warm sunny day. We will be featuring a few of the pie recipes in a separate blog post, starting with the top 3 winners. If there are any other recipes that people would like, just let me know! Between the pies and the potluck, I’d say we have some of the best “amateur” chefs and bakers in any community!

Fall Fest 2011

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.

Today was a beautiful fall day…we’ve all almost forgotten how wonderful a sunny day feels! Root vegetables abound in the share this week- purple-top turnips, radishes, potatoes, fennel, garlic, and onions.  Have a few cabbages in your fridge? There was a wonderful recipe in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living for mini batches of saurkraut or just google a quick kraut recipe. It’s really simple and so delicious to make your own sauerkraut.

October 4, 2011.

Those brave enough to venture into the muddy flower patch these past few weeks were greeted by an array of gorgeous dahlias, their vibrant colors a cheerful respite from the rain. In the Discovery Garden, lemon balm is flourishing, and as we have learned in our herbal classes here at the farm with herbalist Susan Hess of Farm at Coventry, lemon balm is a mild flavorful remedy for children’s colds, stomachaches and headaches.

Dahlias and Lemon Balm

Photos and text by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner.