Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FarmHack and Upcoming 1st Garlic Party

Hello folks!  Yet another productive week out here at the Echollective.  A couple days of nourishing rain have put our crops where they need to be.  Garlic will soon be pulled and last weekend's rain gave our bulbs just enough water for the home-stretch.  Yep that's right everyone...the weekend after next (June 30th-July 1st) ushers in the first Echollective garlic party!!!  Everyone's invited.  Come out and join us!  Garlic will be pulled by all and then cleaned right there in the field.  It is relaxing, laid back work.  And boy, we are glad that we've been running around putting sprinklers on all our mulched garlic beds, because it seems that a lot of garlic farmers in Iowa are experiencing some bizarre garlic behavior...wrinkly, lumpy bulbs!  Fortunately we haven't seen much of this in our bulbs, only barely a touch of it here and there.  We think this must be due to the intense dryness in between these rains, warping garlic cloves into strange shapes.  It sure was a hassle to get our garlic a drink of water, but we think it will pay off....in fact we may, as a result, have some of the best garlic around in Iowa!

The watering hustle has paid off for our other crops, too.  Our broccoli is simply huge now!  Their leaves form a cooling canopy for their beds.  Their stems are certainly thick enough that we'll be expecting crowns anytime soon.  In the hot, hot heat, however, sometimes broccoli flowers get kinda wonky and gross, so we'll see.  At least we've planted another plot of broccoli not too far behind our other one, full of Gypsy broccoli, a hot variety that is famed for enduring the sun's intensity a lot better.  We hope for good crowns from those, and those broccoli transplants are coming along quite well.  And if all else fails, well....broccoli leaves are pretty tasty and beautiful in a braising mix!  Broccoli in any form is incredibly healthy for you, full of vitamins, iron, and antioxidants.

We have new produce on the way, while some of our current vegetables are on their way to kicking the bucket....either they're flowering or simply cannot pump out more veggies.  This is the reality of things as the heat of summer starts to turn the thermostat up a notch.  Sugar snap peas are about done with what they can produce, and we are reaching the tail end of some of our tasty salad mix constituents like bok choy and mizuna (japanese mustard).  Arugula has long since flowered.  No more spinach!  Although we were able to procure a few bunches at market this past weekend.  Our kale though, even the remnants of our winter varieties, continue to grow bigger and bigger.  Our new hot crops are kicking in...we picked our first few zucchinis yesterday!  We are pleased with the size and health of our current squash plants, they are really pumping out flowers and there are quite a few little zukes on the way.  Along with those were our first Sun Gold cherry tomato harvests.  We managed to get a few pints!  Mmmm, they are juicy and sweet, it is pretty hard not to eat them as you pick them.  As you may know, we are now picking bunches from our already robust basil plants!  You probably received a bunch or two in your CSA.  More bunches will be on the table this week.  We have plans to get ground prepared today for more basil starts, which will be inter-planted with our first cucumber crop, the seeds of which were just sown today.  Last but not least, our potato plants are at the point that we will be pulling up our first harvest of New Orleans red fingerlings in just a couple weeks!  Our farm seems at its most bountiful.

Aside from the typical green vegetables, work is being done today to set up a mushroom fruiting shed by our mushroom farmer Will and a handful of others.  Colonized mushroom bags will be hung in a high-tunnel/hoop-house structure covered with white tarping to minimalize the effects of light and heat, and to trap moisture pivotal for the fungus to fruit, or send out mushrooms.  Soon we will have oyster mushrooms by the pound growing right here at Echollective.  Come check it out sometime, or feel free to contact us to stand in on an inoculation, the process by which mushrooms are "planted" and "grown."  Will has the hopes of providing affordable workshops someday, which we will let you know about, if and when they happen.  It is fascinating, informative and fun!

FarmHack IOWA after-party will be held here on the property tomorrow, June 20th!  Be there or be square.  New Belgium beer will flow!  A delicious farm dinner, featuring Echollective produce will be prepared on-site.  Awesome electric tractors, biodiesel farm vehicles, and other machinery will be shown off by their respective owners.  And when the sun goes down, mother nature's light show...the fireflies out here are pretty breathtaking.

Hope you have all had an excellent week.  See you all at market!

CSA Box this week:
  • Braising Mix
  • Salad Mix
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Nettles
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Mint
  • Bok Choy
  • Head Lettuce
  • Basil

Recipes

Lemon Basil Shrimp and Pasta (www.myrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • 3 quarts water
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups baby spinach
 Preparation
  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Stir in basil and next 4 ingredients (through salt). Place 1/2 cup spinach on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture.

Red Curry Bison Short Ribs with Baby Bok Choy (www.eatingwell.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons red curry paste, (see Note), or more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 1/8-inch-thick slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems plus 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  • 6 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds bone-in bison short ribs, or 2 pounds boneless (see Note), trimmed
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup “lite” coconut milk, (optional)
  • 6 baby bok choy, cut in half, or 3 regular bok choy, cut into quarters
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation
  1. Place curry paste to taste, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, scallions and water in a blender or food processor. Blend or process to form a loose paste. Add more water if the mixture is too dense to blend.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ribs and brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Stir in the curry mixture, onion, broth, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, turning the ribs every 30 minutes, until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Transfer the ribs to a plate; cover and keep warm. Add tomatoes and coconut milk (if using) to the broth; bring to a simmer. Add bok choy; cover and cook until the bok choy bases can be pierced with a fork, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size. Season with pepper and more lime juice, if desired. Serve topped with cilantro leaves.
Creamed Turnips (www.simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds turnips
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Preparation

1 Peel and cut the turnips into large chunks. In a large saucepan of boiling water, add the tablespoon of salt, the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves. You may want to tie the spices into a sachet or cheesecloth bag — this makes it easier to remove them later. Boil turnips until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then drain and remove the spices.
2 Return the turnips to the pot they boiled in and add the cream. Turn the burner to medium-low. Bring this to a gentle simmer and mash the turnips with a potato masher. Add the white pepper, the teaspoon of salt and freshly grated nutmeg to taste and serve at once.

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Please tell us if you can't identify something on the market table, don't know what to do with a particular item, have a food allergy we should know about, or if you have other questions or comments. We love to hear from you!

 

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