Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Week 4 Newsletter

Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm!  Welcome to CSA Week 4 and welcome to July.  We hope everyone had a happy, though wet, Fourth of July.

Yep, it is still raining.  We got another inch plus over the weekend and have had showers every day so far this week.  I did get some wash done and dried on the line on Sunday and Monday.  Our crops are really starting to show the signs of too much rain.  Disease is setting in and the weeds are taking over the farm!

Although the fields are wet and weedy, we still have some healthy crops coming on.  Cooking greens are looking good.  Our first run of Asian greens are starting to wind down, with a second planting ready to go in.  We will be taking a bit of a break from salad mix in the next few weeks, as we wait for our fields to recover from the deer invasion of a few weeks ago.  Beans are growing nicely and we anticipate a long run of snap beans.  Peas are still going strong, but starting to wind down.  Shelling peas are done for the season and snaps and snows should hang on for a few more weeks.  Planting 2 of our summer squash is producing nicely with plantings 3 and 4 getting big and starting to flower.  Our greenhouse cucumbers are still producing and our field planted cucumbers are growing.  Winter squash is looking good and barring a disease or insect invasion we should have a good amount of winter squash this winter.  All our melons are planted, although the resident groundhog seems to be taking a liking to them.  We will keep you posted on how melons progress.  The sungold tomatoes in the greenhouse are loaded with flowers and fruit and the wait for the first ripe tomato continues.  Field grown tomatoes look good and will be staked this week.  Field and greenhouse peppers are looking healthy, flowering and starting to produce some tiny fruit.

Our apple orchard pork inventory is starting to be depleted.  We are sold out of bacon, ham steaks, ham hocks, loin roasts and pork chops until the fall.  We now have a plentiful supply of pastured chicken available, both halves and wholes.  Our chicken this year is some of the nicest we have produced with nice consistent weights.  We still have extra eggs for sale, as well.  All of these products are available through our buying club or at the Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.

Speaking of farmers markets.  We will be at Forks Farm Market in Orangeville this Saturday from 10 to 2 selling vegetables.  Then next Saturday, July 18, is the opening day for Back Mountain Memorial Library Market.  We are really excited for the Back Mountain Market this year.  The hours will be the same, 9 to 2, but the market is moving to a new location.  This year we will be setting up in the parking lot at the Dallas Elementary School.  We are excited to have more space for vendors and more parking for customers.  We will be selling vegetables, eggs, chicken and pork at the Dallas market.  If you visit any of the markets we attend, please be sure to stop by and say hello to Farmer Don.

In the kitchen, we are happy to have so many fresh vegetables to cook with.  As I type this newsletter, Don is in the kitchen making dinner.  We are having salmon packets on the grill.  I glanced at the packets before he sealed them and they are overflowing!  Squash, kale, beans, carrots, potatoes, parsley, and of course Wild for Salmon, salmon portions.  Last night we had fresh chicken on the grill, along with roasted potatoes and grilled zucchini. 

The basil we are harvesting looks beautiful right now.  We have several varieties of basils available at this time.  Most everyone is familiar with sweet basil.  We grow two varieties of sweet basil.  The traditional smooth leaved and an Italian sweet or Genovese basil, with a larger frilly leaf.  These sweet basils are a favorite for pesto and pair well with tomatoes.  Another sweet basil we grow is Red Opal basil.  This basil has distinctive deep red leaves and can be used in place of sweet basil in most recipes.  Red basil pairs well with salmon and here on farm we often add it to the foil packets of salmon we cook on the grill.  Speaking of salmon, another basil which pairs well with fish is Mrs Burns Lemon Basil.  This heirloom basil has a distinctive lemony scent and pale green leaves.  I love the aroma of lemon basil and use it in salads and with fish.  Lemon basil also makes a great simple syrup for use in lemonades, iced tea or fruit popsicles. The final basil we grow is Thai Basil.  Thai basil with it distinctive purple stems, holds up a bit better to cooking than sweet basils so is a good addition to soups, stir frys and curries.  Here is a website from a farm in California with some really good recipes.   If you need larger quantities of basil, please contact us for availability. 

Speaking of herbs.  Fresh herbs store best at room temperature in a glass of water on your kitchen counter.  Treat the herbs like flowers; cut the stems fresh and place them in water.  Preserving herbs is also easy and simple.  Try freezing herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a plastic bag.  When you are ready cook simply melt an herb and oil cube in the pan and you are ready for a tasty saute or stir fry. 

We just finished our delicious supper.  Farmer Don has headed out to do night time chores.  The kitchen is even cleaned up!  Time to end this ramble for the week.

 Please remember to return your boxes.  Have a great week!

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