CSA Newsletter Week #9 July 24th

Farm Notes
We all know it’s really midsummer when the tomato harvest begins! While the cool days have slowed down tomato ripening, we will have plenty for this week and several more weeks to come. This week, we were also busy weeding and getting new fields ready for fall crops.

In this week’s share, the garlic variety is the same as last week, Bogatyr. Also, you’ll receive the first batch of onions that are cured and ready to eat — Cabernet Red Onions. This week is the last of our bush green beans, but yellow wax beans and romano beans are still to come later. You will note we have added yellow wax beans to the U-Pick selections as well!

Recently we’ve had some great recipe submissions from CSA members. Do you have a recipe you’d like to share? We’d love to include more recipes from members in the weekly newsletter or in our recipe index. Just send us an email: uk.csa@uky.edu

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Note from an Apprentice
By Lauren Krukiel

Hello, neighbors! I hope this newsletter finds you comfortable during this hot and muggy week! My name is Lauren Krukiel and I transferred into UK’s Sustainable Ag program last fall. Like my fellow apprentices have shared, this experience on the South Farm of bringing you fresh, delicious produce is one of the most amazing I’ve had throughout my academic life. As a girl from the suburbs of Baltimore who grew up eating a processed diet and avoiding yard work, my current endeavors are a complete one eighty from where I was expected to end up (Grandma still can’t believe I work on farm and I gave her a tour a few weeks ago)! But I can’t even begin to express how much passion I have for the food that we grow and how rewarding this experience has been, bringing me joy, energy, education, yummy treats and new friends!

My interest in Sustainable Agriculture began after seeing a nutritionist in my freshman year of college. The visits with the nutritionist not only challenged me to rethink what I was eating, but also where it came from and how it was grown. Once I started doing a little research into agriculture, organic and sustainable practices, I couldn’t stop. From that day forward, everything changed, eventually bringing me to the University of Kentucky. I’ve been studying hard and have learned so much, but no textbook can really help you grasp the life of a farmer. That is why I am so thankful for this opportunity.

I had no idea what it really took to manage a farm before this summer. I could tell you all about the different aspects of a sustainable farm in theory, but putting them into practice is a whole other world. Things don’t go as smoothly as you usually hope, you will almost always be sore, sometimes Mother Nature just isn’t on your side, and harvesting is far more labor intensive than I ever thought. BUT! There are also some awesome tools that work super well in practice that make sustainable farming amazing. Some of these tools are used to control weeds organically, such as the stale seed bedder (fun to pull behind a tractor, even more fun when it keeps nearly 80% of weeds from growing without the use of any chemicals). If you rotate your crops each year, you lower the risk of your plants getting diseases! And planting crops that attract beneficial insects along your plots aids in lowering pest pressure that will damage your produce! It takes trial and error and the techniques need to be fine-tuned, but Tiffany and the staff have done an amazing job using these techniques, tools and more on the South Farm. I can’t imagine a better place to learn and gain real-world experience as a sustainable farmer.
IMG_7229Lauren helping with the leek harvest last week.

Even aside from these tools, the experience of farming – working with food and seeing how the whole system fits together – is spiritual in a way. As the season progresses, the sense of community grows between both staff members and those we serve – you! Our creative thinking is often put to the test, but when the team puts their heads together, the ideas are about as bountiful as our carrot harvest! And I’d have to say that my favorite part is tasting the delicious foods we grow and having the South Farm become part of me.

I’ve had so much fun getting up early and getting my hands in the dirt this summer and I hope you will join us out on the farm – for the U-pick or for parties – and get a taste of just how COOL sustainable farming really is! In the meantime, enjoy your veggies (and fruit!) and I hope to see you at distribution again soon!

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What’s In Your Share

For July 24th, you’ll find:

+ Green Beans
+ Carrots
+ Red Onions
+ Garlic
+ Basil
+ Eggplant
+ Tomatoes
+ Flavorburst Bell Peppers
+ Green Bell Peppers
+ Banana Peppers

The following crops are available for U-Pick:

+ Flowers
+ Herbs
+ Okra
+ Cherry Tomatoes
+ Basil and Dill Flowers (located in the 5th field)
+ Yellow Wax Beans (located in the 1st field)

Please remember to bring your own pruners or scissors for harvesting U-Pick items!

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Veggie Tips

+ The Flavorburst Bell Pepper in your share has a nice goldenrod color. They are very sweet, and are one of our favorite bell peppers to eat!

+ At the farm, we grow both Heirloom Tomatoes and Hybrid Tomatoes. Hybrid tomatoes are an intentional cross of two different tomato varieties. Often, hybrids are crossed and grown to highlight certain features, like disease resistance, yield, or fruit quality. Most likely, the tomatoes you would buy at a store are hybrids. Heirlooms, on the other hand, are not crossed with any other variety; rather, they have been kept the same for many generations. Most heirloom varieties are at least 50 years old. The fruit quality may be unpredictable, with varying appearances and sizes. Many people, however, prefer the taste of heirlooms. In a future newsletter, we’ll highlight some of the varieties you can choose from at distribution.

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+ Tomato Storage Tips: Don’t put tomatoes in the refrigerator! Refrigeration damages the interior fruit membranes, causing the fruit to lose flavor and develop an unpleasant mealy texture. Leave them on your counter, out of direct sunlight. Place tomatoes with the scar from the stem facing down, to prolong their shelf life.

+ Tomato Ripening Tips: Some tomatoes are harvested before reaching full ripeness. Ripening can continue after harvest indoors. Darkness, warmth, and ethylene gas hasten the ripening process. If tomatoes already have some color, they will produce their own ethylene to finish ripening. Green tomatoes, however, will be benefited by placing a fruit that releases ethylene, like a nearly ripe banana, near them to speed up ripening. While warmth is desirable, you want to keep tomatoes out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can toughen the skins and encourage rot. Instead, keep them in a brown paper bag or in a covered cardboard box, and if possible, leave room for air circulation between the fruits.

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Recipes

Gajar Halwa or Carrot Halwa
Submitted by apprentice Lauren Krukiel
This is a sweet, warm, Indian dessert that Lauren made for lunch at the farm this past week. It can be made vegan or vegetarian.

Ingredients:
2 and ½ cups grated organic carrots or gajar
2 and ½ cups almond milk or regular dairy milk
8 tbsp organic unrefined cane sugar or regular sugar (add more or less as required)
¼ or ⅓ cup almond paste or evaporated milk/khoya (optional)
5-6 cardamom, powdered or crushed
8-10 unsalted whole or chopped cashews
7-8 unsalted pistachios – sliced or chopped
12-15 golden raisins
a pinch of saffron (optional)
2 or 2/12 tbsp neutral flavored oil (sunflower oil) or ghee

Directions:
1. Wash, peel and grate the carrots (gajar).
2. Mix the almond milk or regular dairy milk and grated carrot together in a pan.
3. Keep on stovetop and allow the mixture to simmer.
4. Continue to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally.
5. After 15-20 minutes, add cardamom powder and stir.
6. When the mixture has started thickening, add sugar & oil/ghee.
7. Stir and continue to cook.
8. When the mixture has almost dried, add the almond paste and dry fruits.
9. Stir and cook further for 2-3 minutes.
10. Serve carrot halwa hot or warm. The carrot halwa can also be refrigerated and served cold. Carrot halwa stays good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Serves 4.

Eggplant Gratin in Parmesan Custard
From Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
This recipe uses many items in your share: eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and basil! Bake in either a single gratin dish or individual ramekins.

Ingredients:
2 lbs eggplant
Sea Salt
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for coating the dish
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced or pressed
About 1 lb of tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
Freshly ground pepper
8-10 Basil leaves, torn or minced

Directions:
Peel the eggplants and dice them into small cubes. Unless the eggplants are very fresh, toss the cubes with 1 tsp salt, put them in a colander set over a bowl, and set aside while you ready the rest of the vegetables and make the custard.

To make the custard, whisk the eggs with the cream, all but a few tablespoons of the cheese, and the basil.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil an 8×10 inch gratin dish or six 1-cup ramekins.

Blot the eggplant with a kitchen towel. Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a wide nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cubes are soft and golden brown in spots, 12 to 15 minutes. Scrape the eggplant into a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 Tbsp oil to the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the onion and cook, again stirring occasionally, until it has softened and colored just a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more, then add the tomatoes and the cooked eggplant. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes. Taste to make sure there is enough salt, then transfer the eggplant mixture to the prepared gratin dish or ramekins.

Pour the custard over the eggplant and scatter the remaining cheese over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes for the gratin dish, closer to 20 for the ramekins. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. If using ramekins, serve them in their dishes on a plate, resting on a folded napkin.

Serves 4-6.

Variation with Saffron: Cover 2 pinches of saffron threads with 1 Tbsp boiling water, let steep for 5 minutes, then add to the custard.

Peppers with Tomato Sauce
Submitted by CSA Member Hayriye Cetin Karaca from turkishfoodandrecipes.com

Ingredients:
2-3 green peppers, cut into bite sizes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tomatoes, crushed or 6-7 tbsp crushed tomato in a can
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp salt to taste

Directions:
In a skillet shallow fry peppers with olive oil. Sprinkle half of the salt. When peppers become soft and light brown, place them in a plate. Then place crushed tomatoes, minced garlic and remaining salt in same skillet. The remaining oil in the skillet will be enough for tomatoes. Cook tomatoes over low heat for 3-4 minutes.
Finally pour the tomato sauce on shallow fried peppers. You can garnish with sweet corn pieces.
You can serve Peppers with Tomato Sauce cold or warm with any kind of meat and poultry dishes.

Sauteed Carrots and Leeks
Submitted by CSA Member Betsy Adler

Ingredients:
2 leeks, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
Combine leeks, carrots, chicken broth, butter, sugar, thyme, salt, and pepper in a skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes. Cook and stir mixture until leeks and carrots are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

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