Greetings farm a cooler Dancing Hen Farm! Welcome to Week 15 of our Summer/Main Season CSA. There are 3 weeks remaining in this CSA. Our new Fall CSA will start immediately following our Summer CSA. Week 15 IS an EGG week.
Wow! What a difference 12 hours makes! Last night when we went to bed it felt more like the end of July then September, with temperatures outside still in the 70's and the humidity high. This morning we awoke to temperatures in the low 60's, lower humidity and cool breeze. I am thinking our 90 degree days are over for 2017. I will be honest, these past days of heat, humidity and no rain have been tough on Dancing Hen Farm. Farmers and animals all have been moving a bit more slowly. Everyone has been spending more time in the shade and drinking lots of water. And believe it or not, some of our greens are showing signs of heat stress. Who would have thought I would be talking about heat stress in plants this time of year? It seems the gnats are the only thing loving this heat! Perhaps we jinxed ourselves on the gnats? We had just been saying we thought they were not as bad this summer. Well, the past week or so, humans and dogs alike, have felt like the needed to be wrapped in mosquito netting just to step outside the house! Let's hope the cooler temperatures put the gnats to rest!
Continuing with the heat. Our fields are quite interesting and mixed right now. I am not sure I remember a season where this late we were talking about summer crops continuing to grow, but that is what we are seeing this year. Peppers and okra are actually pushing a new set of flowers! I doubt the pepper flowers will mature into fruit, but okra develops fairly rapidly, so I have no doubt some of the okra flowers will produce okra. Our late summer squash planting is looking good and we will continue to harvest from these plants until frost. Tomatoes are winding down, as they are finally succumbing to disease. Although, next week we are anticipating some nice plum tomatoes becoming available. As much as I hate to admit it, Farmer Don won the bean debate. It looks like we will get a harvest off of our beans which were topped by the deer. The plants were able to recover from their pruning and beans will be available starting next week. As with the squash, we should be able to harvest from these plants up until frost. Our small planting of flat Italian beans are also looking good and will continue to be available in smaller numbers until frost. These flat beans were a bit of an experiment for us, hence the small planting. They are a pole bean variety and we have them growing over one of our small hoop houses. They seem to be doing well, and I think we have decided to continue to produce them next season. Unlike our summer crops, our fall crops have not been nearly as happy with the recent heat wave and are starting to show some signs of heat stress. We have re-planted some of our greens to compensate and hopefully some of our fall root crops will be fine now that the temperatures are cooling. Cauliflower and Broccoli do not like high temperatures and for that reason our quantity and quality on these crops has been lowered by the weather. It is too late to re -plant these crops and we will do our best to harvest what we can. Lettuce is looking good and our fall salad mix should remain available. Loose leaf radicchio (a chicory) and a new escarole planting are looking good and these also should remain available. This may be the last week for summer herbs, such as basil, as these herbs do not like cooler weather.
A bit more on radicchio and escarole. Escarole is the green traditionally used in Italian wedding soup and this cooler weather, means soup season has begun. Farmer Don is the Italian wedding soup chef in our house and for years he has used the recipe on the back of the orzo pasta box. My Mother loved escarole, but being Pennsylvania Dutch, she preferred her escarole wilted with hot bacon dressing. There never was a recipe for hot bacon dressing when I was growing up, my Mother and Grandmothers, "just made it". Years later, when Don and I started sending out recipes to our customers, I found a recipe online, which after consulting with Mom, I determined was close to the dressing I grew up eating, although my Mom says she rarely added flour. She felt the egg(s) thickened the dressing enough. Here is the link http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/153678/hot-bacon-dressing-pennsylvania-dutch .Oh yes, I was talking about radicchio and escarole, not my Mom's hot bacon dressing! So, the radicchio Framer Don is growing is a cutting radicchio or chicory. This means the harvested portions will be loose leaf and not a tight head. Radicchio/chicory is a slightly bitter Italian green and can be used in a salad or cooked. As with all greens, a quick steam or blanch will reduce some of the bitterness. Radicchio pairs well with the sweetness of beet or fruits, such as pears. Deborah Madison has a nice recipe for a radicchio salad recipe. Farmer Don and I have made this recipe and usually do not have walnut oil on hand, so we substitute olive oil. http://www.foodonthefood.com/food_on_the_food/radicchio-salad-print.html Here is another salad recipe I recently found and we may have to try it this week with beets and green bean available along with radicchio! https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/green-bean-and-radicchio-salad-with-roasted-beets-and-balsamic-red-onions-109576
In our kitchen, we are still in summer mode. As much as I want to start roasting meats and veggies in the oven, we are still primarily cooking on the grill and stove top. Lots of our meals contain tomatoes and summer squash. I usually do not preserve summer squash, so zucchini and its summer squash cousins are truly seasonal foods for us. Therefore we eat lots and lots of summer squash when it is in season. I do can tomatoes, but there is nothing like a fresh heirloom tomato! We are still eating BLT's almost once a week and I often have a tomato or grilled cheese and tomato sandwich for lunch. Last night, dinner was late, so we had a quick meal of pasta and veggies. The sauce consisted of sauted zucchini, yellow squash, chard, peppers and cherry tomatoes. Garlic and fresh basil were added at the end and everything was topped with some grated cheese. Simple, quick, but nothing can beat the fresh from the garden taste!
We do have a few spots available in our Fall CSA, although we are getting close to our capacity. This CSA will run for 8 weeks immediately following our Summer CSA. Membership in our CSA is reserved, once we receive payment. We will need payment in full before the start of the Fall CSA. Add on egg shares are also available for fall. We also will have a limited amount of chicken and pork available through the CSA buying club.
Thanks to everyone who actually reads my newsletters. Farmer Don comes home from market almost every weekend telling me he met another person who follows my newsletters. Even if you are not on signed up with our website, I do post all of newsletters to our blog http://dancinghenfarmcsa.blogspot.com/ I am still trying to convince Farmer Don to write a few newsletters before the season ends. When we started the CSA, Farmer Don wrote all of the newsletters. At that time, we did not email them, but, instead printed them and placed them in each member's box. I was given the task of reading the Farmers handwriting and typing them in to our newsletter format each week. I actually think I would prefer to write the newsletters then type them. Farmer Don loves to use small scraps of paper and sometimes he would write and entire newsletter in tiny little script on a piece of scrap paper! Oh the memories!
Oh how long this newsletter is getting. I think I will wrap things up. Thanks again to everyone for their support. Enjoy this cooler, but beautiful, weather. And from Farmer Don: "be safe, be well and enjoy those veggies".