Greetings from Dancing Hen Farm! Welcome to CSA Week 6. This is NOT an egg week.
Hot days and hot nights have been the norm around here recently. I think it was a bit cooler this morning, but this afternoon brought the heat right back. It looks as though we will have a cool down the middle of this week and then hot and steamy again in time for next weekend. Saturday, storms blew through the farm and we received over an inch of very needed rain. An inch of slow, steady, soaking rain would have been preferred, but we are thankful for any rain we get. This is a dry year for us and we are so fortunate to have the ability to irrigate. And our irrigation system has been working overtime recently as we keep fields watered and plant roots cool.
Farmer Don's war on weeds continued this week with a big project around the pond. We have always kept part of the pond bank mowed and left the rest more natural. However, recently, we had been, once again, losing chickens to a predator. The signs and symptoms of these attacks seemed to be a bit different than our usual predator, which we think is a raccoon. Last weekend I was enjoying some pond time with the dogs when I spotted a weasel along the edge of the pond. Now we are thinking the weasel is killing chickens and eating eggs! With some mowing and weed eating, the pond has been reclaimed, as Farmer Don says. Hopefully the lack of cover will make the weasel not as comfortable.
In the fields, we are continuing to harvest summer squash and cucumbers. Patty pan and eight ball zucchini will appear in some of our summer squash mixes this week. Lettuce, chard and kale also continue to produce. Our field grown tomatoes are looking really good and Farmers Don and Matt finished staking them this week. Tomatillos and tomatoes are blooming and beginning to set fruit. Our pepper plants are finally starting to become established and are growing nicely. The next item to appear on the available list will most likely be escarole. Escarole is the green in Italian Wedding soup or as my Mother liked it, with hot bacon dressing. Green snap beans have tiny beans on the plants and we are waiting patiently for them to size up for harvest. Our eggplants are looking healthy. We have uncovered them and the Asian eggplant are beginning to flower. This week is most likely the last week for peas. We harvested our garlic last week and it is curing in the barn. Farmer Don feels this is some of our best garlic. Look for garlic to appear on the availability in the next few weeks.
We try to keep a variety of different herbs on the availability each week. Most of these are harvest from a kitchen herb garden we have planted near the house. We do have field plantings of basil, cilantro and dill. We should be harvesting from these soon. We often do not bring herbs to the markets we attend. If you are a market customer and would like some fresh cut herbs, please email the farm and we will do our best to fill your request.
Speaking of markets, we will again be at the Pittston Farmers market on Tuesday, the Back Mountain Market on Saturday and the Mountain Top Market on Sunday. This Saturday is also a Forks Farm Market, so you can also find us at Forks this week as well. Please consider coming to one of these markets. Support us and our fellow farmers. If you visit, be sure to stop by our table, say "hello" and "shake the hand that grows your food".
In the kitchen this week, we have been avoiding the oven so as not to heat the house up anymore. Salmon packets on the grill are one of our favorites. We do a filet per packet and add whatever veggies we have in the fridge and top with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. The veggies this week were squash, peas, chard and scallions. I also usually add some fresh herbs, with purple basil, lemon basil, dill or lemon balm being favorites. Speaking of herbs, another of my favorite summertime treats is fresh brewed iced tea. To the tea I add a handful of herbs (mint, lemon balm, lavender, etc) and sometimes a bit of honey. So refreshing, over ice, on a hot summer day.
Since we are in the midst of zucchini and summer squash season, I thought I would pass on some recipes and cooking ideas. I think most of us know zucchini is really nice grilled. Zucchini can also be eaten raw in salads. I have an old Moosewood Cafe cookbook with a zucchini salad recipe. It is a simple recipe, involving julienning the zucchini and adding some fine chopped scallions and peppers (if available). The prepared veggies are then tossed with a simple herb vinaigrette. Tonight we are having one of my Mom's favorite ways of preparing zucchini. I never remember her following a recipe, but it is a fairly easy dish. Brown sausage in a Dutch oven or large frying pan. Drain excess fat if necessary and add chopped onion, garlic and some mixed Italian herbs to the pan. Once the onions have softened, add cubed zucchini. When the zucchini is getting close to being cooked, add some canned or fresh tomatoes to the mix. Continue cooking, allowing any excess moisture to reduce if necessary. My Mother usually added cooked elbow macaroni to this dish as well. Top with grated parmesan cheese. In recent years, I have also been making zoodles, or zucchini noodles. I use a mandolin slicer, but you can also use a spiral slicer or test your knife skills and hand slice them. Zoodles can be topped with a variety of sauces, including a simple tomato meat sauce, any variety of pesto, grated cheese or curry sauces.
Before I end, I need to send a reminder out to our members who have arranged to pay for their shares using a payment plan. Your second installments are NOW overdue. The next (or third) payment will be due around the first of August. Thank you for your cooperation on this!
For any of our members and farm friends who are on social media, the farm has a facebook page, a pinterest page and a blog! I post farm updates, these newsletters and pictures to our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Dancing-Hen-Farm-111155465564952/) and to our blog (http://dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/). Please follow along!
It is Monday again, which means harvest and pack day. I should head down to the pack line and see if my help is need for portioning. So, until next week.....
Be sure to look to the sky tomorrow, as Tuesday is a full moon. A full Buck or Thunder Moon.