R.A.G.B.R.A.I., Fishing, and other Summer Fun

8:58 PM Adrian 0 Comments

Hey folks!  Hope everyone has been enjoying some nice summer activities, in spite of the heat.  Maybe swimming at a pool or lake, some camping, perhaps fishing or canoeing...or gardening!  Some of our crew took a few days off to participate in R.A.G.B.R.A.I., (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa) which seems like an awesome summer thing to do!  It was really hot one day (105!) and there was a bad storm in one of their stopping towns, but they all said it was great fun.  We sure wish a storm had hit us!  Seems like the last cold front that came through took a lot of pains to actually avoid raining on us, much to our frustration.  A bit of rain, even a little here and there, can be of some help and relief to us....but my, this drought continues!

All our garlic has long since been pulled, and is now stacked and stored, curing in our barn.  Our Sungold cherry tomatoes have really kicked in now!  We are pulling pints upon pints from our vines.  They are quickly becoming one of our main crops, along with our kale varieties.  Cherokee purple tomatoes have finally set and flushed their purple colors, the first of our round of heirlooms.  Several were picked just yesterday!  Broccoli continues to send up heads in considerable numbers, you'll notice some of the crowns this week have come out an interesting shade of deep purple and burgundy!  I've never seen this before and I don't know what causes it, but it is quite pretty!  On average the heads are getting smaller and smaller as the plant loses steam through the season.  We will have some medium-size crowns available for CSA members as well as some smaller florettes that we can distribute in an amount on-par to the size of the larger broccoli.  In a little while, however, our other patch or broccoli should be pushing up the same big crowns that we had available before!  Of course, size doesn't matter.  If you are a seasoned buyer of produce, you and I both know that typically the smaller-sized vegetables and fruits you can get are packed with more flavor!

Our CSA list may be a bit skimpy this week (and perhaps in the next couple weeks) as we make the transition from our main summer bulk to our cooler fall fare.  In fact, we have been at work planting the next round of seedlings in flats that we will be transplanting come September or October.  This includes head and leaf lettuces, bok choy, beets, and cilantro so far!  They have already sprouted and are spreading their little leaves out towards the sun in our starts houses.  We have to keep a close eye on them in this weather...a couple hours of neglect and they could dry right up!  Kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, dandelion, and more are on the way.  Don't worry, some of our hot season crops have yet to kick in and will be (hopefully, despite heat/dryness!) pumping out fruit in no time!  Sweet peppers, hot peppers, and eggplants are already bearing and setting, but not in nearly the numbers we can muster to provide for all of you CSA folks.  We were able to get some of you our first round of green beans!  It's a bit uncertain as of now how our bean plants will do in the next couple weeks, but we hope to get more out yet, and we are taking great care to water them.  They are producing lots of flowers, so that is hopeful! 

Sadly, we had to pull the last of our zucchini and Yellow Zephyr squashes out of our greenhouses, they suffered too greatly from a combination of heat stress, mole damage and an enormous hatch of squash bugs.  No more summer squash.  And to add another sad note, the squash bugs went straight for our little cucumbers after they had nothing left to eat!  No cucumbers this year.  However, the two large plots of winter squash have been weeded and tended to well so we can be optimistic that there will be a round of winter squash for all of you in the future!

In spite of all the hard work we do, we take some time to relax and have fun on our off time.  Some of us go on fishing trips, others of us go on bicycle races.  We enjoyed a splendid dinner recently of local Iowan trout that one of our farmers Will caught last week, stuffed with feta, sunflower seeds and wild cherries with an anise hyssop plum sauce.  Simple yet decadent, but totally delicious.  We watch our big flock of kittens make friends with each other, play, chase us on farm walks, and settle old quarrels under big bright Iowa sunsets on relieving cool evenings.  Hope you're all enjoying the great things about summer, too!

What to expect this week:
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes


Garlic Red Potatoes (allrecipes.com)


  • 2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place potatoes in an 8x8 inch baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl combine melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon juice; pour over potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over potatoes.
  4. Bake, covered, in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Spicy Brussel Sprouts with Mint (www.huffingtonpost.com)

(*If you're one of those people who still claims to hate Brussels sprouts, we guarantee you'll change your mind after trying this recipe. The sprouts are well browned, giving them a nice charred flavor!  They're then tossed with Rice Krispies (that's right, the snap, crackle and pop kind) and dressed with a sweet-and-spicy vinaigrette.)



  • 1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the Rice Krispies and togarashi and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 30 seconds. Season with salt. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet.
  • 2. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, water, sugar, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic and chile and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cilantro and mint.
  • 3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until nearly smoking. Add the brussels sprouts; cook over high heat, stirring, until charred in spots and heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Just before serving, sprinkle the Rice Krispies on top and serve right away.

 Fusilli with Sausage, Kale, and Sungold Tomatoes (www.seriouseats.com)


  • 1 pound fusilli or other short pasta
  • 1 large bunch kale, leaves chopped and stems discarded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from skins and crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablepoons fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12-15 whole cherry tomatoes, such as Sungolds
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping


1. Bring two pots of salted water to boil: 1 for the kale, 1 for the pasta. Cook the kale in boiling water until tender, then drain well and set aside. Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and crumble the sausage into the skillet. Cook, breaking up well with a wooden spoon, until the fat is rendered and the meat is starting to brown. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds and continue cooking until the sausage is golden brown and caramelized.
3. Add the blanched kale and stir to coat well. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they just begin to lose their shape. Add the drained pasta, tossing to coat in the fat, adding pasta water and Parmesan as necessary to create a silky sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and divide among bowls, topping with remaining Parmesan.
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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