Yearly Archives: 2013

Final winter share delivery

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Blurry, candlelit photo from our crew party.

We celebrated the season’s end with a big party at our house fueled by turkey, an extraordinary potluck and lots of wine.  Our employees brought their partners and families.  The kids rampaged in the living room while we reminisced about the year they knocked over the Christmas tree.  Almost the whole crew attended, dressed in clean clothes and bearing their best potluck dishes.  It is a joy to wrap up the season this way.

Thank you for being members of our farm this season.  We hope you have a wonderful winter.  See you next spring.  Beth and Steve.

Things you need to know about this delivery:
* Your delivery will consist of two different boxes, labeled “A” and “B”.  The boxes contain different vegetables. Take one “A” box and one “B” box.
* We have altered the pick up hours at unheated sites so the produce does not freeze.  Consult the list in the sidebar.

Winter share strategy
* These vegetables are the most perishable: Brussels sprouts and leeks.
* These are the next-most perishable: green cabbage, red cabbage, parsnips
* These will last the longest: Beauty Heart radish, beets, carrots, celeriac, onions, potatoes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes.

Veggie List and Storage Notes
This is another big delivery.  Take a look at our 11/20/13 post for storage advice for most of the vegetables.  I’ve included notes below for veggies packed in this delivery but not in the 11/20 boxes.

Box “A”
Satina potatoes, 5 lb
Russet potatoes, 5 to 5.5 lb
Yellow onions, 5 lb
Sweet potatoes, about 6 lb

Box “B”
Red beets, 3 lb
Brussels sprouts, 0.8 lb
Green cabbage, 1
Red cabbage, 1
Orange carrots, 5 lb –
Yellow carrots, 1 lb – Both carrot types are in one bag.
Celeriac, 1
Leeks, 3 lb
Parsnips, 3 lb
Rutabaga, 1 to 3 depending on size
Beauty Heart radish, several

Cabbage – Refrigerate.  Cut off chunks as needed.
Celeriac – Will store for months in your fridge.  Cut off chunks as needed.
Yellow and orange carrots – We’ve mixed the two colors in one bag.
Parsnips (These look like rough white carrots.) – Refrigerate in a plastic bag.  Parsnips will store for two months but will darken in color.
Rutabaga (round root, cream-colored with purple shoulders) – Refrigerate.  Will store for several months.
Beauty Heart radishes (round, white with pale green shoulders and pink interior)– Refrigerate.
Sweet potatoes – As usual, these are unwashed.  We don’t want to risk chilling them in winter.  Store at room temperature, above 55 F.

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Winter share, delivery #1

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Larry and Noah winterize the outdoor washroom. It’s too cold to work in this space during winter but we appreciate the protection from wind and snow drifts. We will store equipment in here until spring.

Things you need to know about your winter share.
* Your delivery will consist of two different boxes, labeled “A” and “B”.  The boxes contain different vegetables. Take one “A” box and one “B” box.
* Please pick up your boxes on the day of delivery, during the normal hours for your site. Don’t count on picking up late or the next day. It will be cold during the deliveries and the produce may freeze overnight at the unheated sites.
* We are sending all of the winter squash in this first delivery.
* Don’t feel that you have to eat all this food before the second delivery! Much of it will store quite well. See below.
* The second (and final) winter share delivery will be on Thursday December 12 (Madison, Middleton, Oregon and Evansville) and Friday December 13 (Milwaukee area, Janesville).
* Local Thyme is not supplying specific recipes for the winter boxes.  However, we have access to the entire catalog of Local Thyme recipes all winter.  Check them out for your Thanksgiving ideas.

Winter share strategy
* These vegetables are the most perishable: scallions, bok choy, and butternuts with flaws.
* These are the next-most perishable: cranberries, leeks, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash.  Watch your winter squash closely and use quickly if you see any signs of deterioration.
* These will last the longest: Beauty Heart radish, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes.

Veggie List and Storage Info (winter share, delivery #1)

Box “A”
Butternut squash, 1 large and 1 medium
Satina yellow potatoes, 5 lb
Adirondack Blue potatoes, 3 lb
Sweet potatoes, 5 lb
Garlic, 1 small bulb

Box “B”
Beauty Heart winter radish, about 2
Golden beets plus some “Badger Gold” beets, 3 1/3 lb total
Brussels sprouts, 1.5 lb
Carrots, 5 lb
Cranberries, 1 pint
Leeks, 3 lb
Scallions, 1 bunch
Yellow onions, 5 lb
Bok choy, 1 medium head

Here’s what we think will be in the December delivery:  beets, green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, celeriac, leeks, onions, parsnips, russet potatoes, yellow potatoes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, Beauty Heart winter radishes.

Beets – Refrigerate in a plastic bag.  Beets will store for two months or longer.  You will receive a mix of golden beets (2 1/3 lb, round, gold inside) and “Badger Gold” beets (1 lb, longer, russeted skin on shoulders, striped inside).  Remember our collaborative carrot trial with research scientists from UW/Madison this summer?  “Badger Gold” was developed by Prof. Irwin Goldman of the Horticulture Department.  It will be one of the first varieties to be released through the radical Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI).  It is an excellent, sweet golden beet, with lovely concentric rings inside.  Irwin says it is even good raw.  We were thrilled that Irwin offered us a bit of seed to try this year.  It is not available for sale yet, so this is the farmer-equivalent of getting past the velvet rope at an exclusive club.
Bok choy – Refrigerate and use soon.
Carrots.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag.  Will keep for several weeks.
Cranberries.  Refrigerate.  Freeze if you don’t expect to use within several weeks.  These organic cranberries are from Ruesch Farms in central Wisconsin.  They are of very beautiful quality because they were harvested by ‘dry raking’ instead of a wet harvest in which the field is flooded.  Brian Ruesch says that dry raking is more work for them but preserves the quality and storage life of the cranberries.
Garlic.  Can be stored at room temperature.  As I mentioned in previous newsletters, the midwestern garlic crop failed this year so we only have one small bulb for each of you.
Leeks.  Refrigerate and eat within three weeks.  Leeks are not a long-storage crop.  You may need to strip off one or two outer leaves to freshen the leeks before you cook them.
Onions: Store in a cool, dark spot or refrigerate.  Protect from light.  Exposure to light stimulates sprouting.
Potatoes:  Can be stored at room temperature or in a cool spot, but must be kept in the dark, or they will turn green.  They will store longer if kept cool.  Around 40 – 50 F is ideal.  Keep them in the paper bag we sent them in, or cover the potatoes with a cloth.  The potatoes are from Chris Malek of Malek Family Stewardship Farm.  Everyone will receive 5 lb. Satina potatoes.  These have light yellow flesh and are a good all-purpose potato.  Everyone will also receive 3 lb of blue-fleshed potatoes.  They are a pretty addition to roasted potato dishes.
Sweet potatoes – Wow, the sweet potato crop turned out so well this year.  These are the Covington variety, and have developed excellent flavor and sweetness.  Store at room temperature, no lower than 55 F.  Keep them on your kitchen counter where it’s easy to keep an eye on them.  The roots come in a wide ranges of sizes and all are good.  The sweet potatoes are not washed.  We don’t like to wet them this time of year without a warm place to dry them.
Winter squash –  You will receive two butternut squash, one large and one medium.  Almost all are our Waltham variety which tends to grow big squashes.  Some squash have minor flaws.  Identify and use that squash first.  Store winter squash in a cool, dry place.  50 F is ideal.  Do not put in a plastic bag.  Inspect your squash frequently and cook if you see any soft spots developing.  You can cook, mash and freeze the squash for future use.  I find that you can refrigerate cut raw squash for up to one week.  This runs counter to the accepted way to store squash, but is useful if you want to cook just half a squash at one time.  Try microwaving your squash for one to two minutes before cutting or peeling.  This softens the squash and makes large butternuts easier to handle.

What are you planning for your Thanksgiving meal?
I thought I’d share our plans.  We are a family of cooks.  We plan to prepare a heritage breed turkey from Matt Smith at Blue Valley Gardens, brined overnight (Beth), stuffing (Beth’s mom), Brussels sprouts with garlic-mustard vinaigrette (Steve), roasted sweet potatoes (Sophie), glazed butternut squash (Beth), crunchy carrot-Beauty Heart salad with sesame-seed dressing (Steve), homemade applesauce (Ari), pickles (Ari), cranberry sauce (friends), and apple pie (Sophie).  We love Thanksgiving!

Leek-Vegetable Fritters With Lemon Cream
While packing CSA boxes, crew member Jon rapsodized about a leek fritter recipe he enjoys.  It was a chilly day and we were getting hungry.  I think every person went home and made those leek fritters, including me.  They are tasty and mild, true comfort food.  I’ll list the ingredients here, and you can read the recipe online.  We skipped the sour cream and used Greek yogurt instead.  The recipe is from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

For the fritters:
2 pounds leeks, pale green and white parts only (or use 1 pound leeks and 1 pound cooked vegetables like carrots, potatoes, summer squash, beets, zucchini)
Salt
2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
1 egg
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch freshly grated lemon zest
Salt

Read the recipe here.

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Goodbye.

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The snow showers on Monday were dramatic.  Steve waves good bye and looks forward to his winter rest.

This is the final week of our regular CSA season.  We would like to thank each of you for joining our farm this year.  We appreciate your support and encouragement.  We hope you enjoyed the produce and the experience.  It was a good year, from our perspective.  The late spring was frustrating but we found ourselves racing to keep up with the crops by summer.  Moisture was erratic; we got seven inches in June, then almost no rain for two months.  It was a good year for almost everything in the Brassica (cabbage) family, with loads of broccoli and surprisingly early harvests of cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli.  The cabbage are dauntingly big.  Pepper harvests were below average.  We sent most of the peppers in the CSA boxes (instead of to our store customers) so maybe it wasn’t noticeable.  Tomatoes and melons did great!  This was our longest strawberry season ever.  We have no complaints about that.

We were fortunate to gather an enthusiastic work crew this year.  Steve struggled through midseason without an assistant farmer until Larry stepped in with his ability to fix anything.  Our workers have begun moving on to their winter jobs.  Many work at farms with winter greenhouse or hoophouse production.  Others will travel, waitress, or nanny.  One will drive a taxi cab.  A few will work with us through the winter preparing our stored carrots and other crops for sale to the Willy Street and Outpost coops.  Steve and I look forward to some quiet time to play with our kids and plan next season.  Have a great winter!  Beth

2013 Survey.
Tell us your thoughts on our CSA season.  Use the link in this week’s email.  We are particularly interested in members’ vegetable preferences, and whether the Local Thyme menus were useful.  Here is your chance to tell us how to improve your CSA deliveries.  We will carefully read through your comments this winter, and will incorporate your feedback as we plan next season.

2014 Registration.
We are preparing to open 2014 CSA registrations.  Watch for an email from us soon.  There will be an opportunity to register early at our 2013 rates.  We will open registration for new members after December 1.

Final Details.
– Please make sure that everyone who participates in your CSA share knows the CSA has finished.
– Please return all empty CSA boxes this week. It’s best to unpack your box this week, and leave it behind.  It’s OK to leave empty boxes at your site during the next two weeks.
– Our Local Thyme subscription is good for an entire year, so you have access to their website and recipes until spring. Use it this winter!

Food Safety Modernization Act Comments are due November 15.
See last week’s post for more info.  Thanks to those of you who already submitted your comments,

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week #26, green EOW)

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The crew gathered Brussels sprout stalks during the snow on Monday.  Alex clips stalks while Carla, Clint, Michael, Bri and Steve load them on the wagon.  We brought them back to the buildings so everyone could work inside the warm barn while snapping individual sprouts from the stalks.

Green cabbage, 1 large
Sweet potatoes (unwashed), about 2 lb
Brussels sprouts, 1 lb
Butternut squash
Beets, 2 lb
Celeriac, 1 root
Carrots, 2 lb
Onions, about 2

Sweet potatoes – As I explained last week, we dry-brushed the soil off the sweet potatoes.  It is too risky to wash them this time of year without a warm place to dry them.  Store your sweet potatoes at room temperature.
Butternut squash – Similarly, we dry-brushed the butternuts, but they will need more thorough washing.
Brussels sprouts – If you are a new CSA member, please approach Brussels sprouts with an open mind.  Many of us grew up eating awful, overcooked Brussels sprouts.  These Brussels sprouts are completely different.  Here is how we cook Brussels sprouts: Wash the sprouts and trim the cut ends. Cut an X in the stem end of large sprouts.  Cut a single slit in small or medium sprouts.  This does two things. It helps the Brussels sprouts cook evenly, plus it allows them to soak up any marinade or dressing.  Place in a pot with one inch of water in the bottom and steam until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.  If the sprouts are uneven in size, then set aside the smallest ones and add to the pot after the larger ones have cooked for a few minutes.  Don’t overcook them!  You can also oven-roast Brussels sprouts.  Here are a few dressing ideas for cooked sprouts:
– Sherry vinegar/olive oil/Dijon mustard/garlic/white wine/salt and pepper
– Balsamic vinegar/olive oil/garlic/salt and pepper
– Lemon juice and zest/melted brown butter/poppy seeds/white wine/garlic/salt

 

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URGENT: Please comment on the food safety act

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The crew harvests winter radishes.  It was too muddy to use our mechanical root harvester, plus we find that harvesting by hand is easier on the brittle radishes.  From left, Jon, Kelty, Alex, Clint, and Kyle.

Purple EOW members, this is your final delivery (November 7/8).
Weekly and green EOW members, you will receive your final box next week (November 14/15)

Wrap-up for purple EOW members.  Thank you for being members of our farm this year!  We hope you have enjoyed the experience. A few thoughts:
– Please read next week’s email for our annual survey.  We will incorporate your comments into our plans for next year.
– Please return all your empty CSA boxes.
– We expect to open 2014 registration soon for returning Tipi members.  Watch for emails from us.

Please comment on the Food Safety Modernization Act
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a piece of legislation currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration.  It is an intimidating set of regulations that seek to overhaul food safety in the USA.  There are sound ideas in the act, such as protecting fresh produce from exposure to raw manure.  Unfortunately, this complex piece of legislation has enough bad ideas to drive many small and medium vegetable farms out of business.  As summarized by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, “The (FDA)’s first draft of new safety rules has big problems. They will be costly, especially for smaller farmers. They conflict with National Organic Program rules and undermine conservation practices.  They undercut CSAs and other essential markets in local food systems. What is bad for our farmers is bad for our consumers.”

Will it put us out of business?  No, but it will make our job much more difficult, without improving the quality of your food.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has done a good job summarizing the current draft of the legislation.  Go to the NSAC website to learn more about the Food Safety Act, and to read their assessment of the top problems with the proposed regulations.

The FDA is accepting comments on the FSMA until November 15.  If you are concerned about maintaining your community of local farms, we encourage you to submit a comment to the FDA.

The Sustainable Ag Coalition has a good instructions on how to submit an effective comment, as well as links to the government submissions pages.  We encourage you to submit your comment under both the Produce Rule and the Preventative Controls Rule.  Our farm and CSA (and your food supply) will be affected by both pieces of legislation.  Beth

Steve’s take on the Food Safety Modernization Act.
We don’t often talk with you about the cultural and political pressures that affect us as organic famers.  Something is brewing that we want you to know about. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is putting together an administrative rule called the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  Congress authorized this act, intending to improve the safety of the American food supply.

The FSMA, as currently drafted, would have a huge negative effect on our farm and other similar small and medium-sized vegetable farms, whether organic or conventional.  The food safety rules call for extreme preventative measures that have not been shown to reduce foodborne illness.  The FDA expects that compliance would cost a farm like Tipi about $30,000 per year.  Smaller, younger farms could spend half their net income meeting these standards, forcing them out of business.

The whole draft rule is over 3,000 pages.  I have not read all of it, but have gone through a few especially relevant topics.  I’m relying on small farm and sustainable ag advocates who have digested and summarized this sprawling document.

The FSMA, as written in draft, is a true threat to the locally-oriented organic farms that feed you through CSAs, food coops, farmers’ markets and farm-to-school programs.  See above for links to some well-researched information.

The FDA is taking comments on the FSMA rules through next Friday November 15.  We ask you to help stop this damaging regulation by sending a short comment to the FDA.  You don’t need to be overly technical.  A comment like the one below (in your own words of course) would register your opinion:
“We are CSA members in Wisconsin and our family (or household) eats more fresh produce because of our CSA commitment.  Do not put burdensome, unproven mandates on our farmers!  We trust their food and their judgement.  Your proposed FSMA rules would damage the local farms that we depend on for safe, high-quality food.”

Thank you for your time considering this.  Steve

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week #25, purple EOW)
Tip for cutting winter squash: If you want to peel or dice your butternut squash, microwave the intact squash on high for one minute.  That’s enough to warm and soften the squash, making it much easier to peel.  I find this trick useful even when just cutting the butternut in half.

Russet potatoes,  about 3.5 lb
Sweet potatoes (unwashed), about 2 lb
Butternut winter squash
Collard greens
Leeks, about 1.5 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Beauty Heart radish, 1 lb, about 2
Onion, 1
Broccoli, 1 modest head or some side shoots

Next week’s box will probably contain green cabbage, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, beets, celeriac, carrots, onions and Brussels sprouts.

Russet potatoes – Chris Malek sent us big beautiful russets this week, perfect for baking.
Sweet potatoes – These are unwashed.  Sweet potatoes need warm storage.  It is too risky to wash them this time of year without a warm place to dry them, so we ran them through a dry brusher to knock off most of the dirt.  This delivery is mostly the Beauregard variety.  Here are a few things we’ve learned about sweet potatoes:
– Store your sweet potatoes at room temperature.  They suffer chilling injury below 50 F.
– The sweet potatoes we grow require slightly longer cooking than ones from the supermarket, perhaps because they contain higher moisture so soon after harvest.  Cook thoroughly for best flavor and texture.
– Sweet potatoes are good at any size. We have cooked everything from tiny to jumbo and consistently find that all sizes taste good.
– We have a new favorite way to roast sweet potatoes.  We used to prepare sweet potato fries.  Now we just quarter the potatoes, rub with olive oil, dust with salt and place cut-side-down on a cookie sheet.  Roast in a 450 F oven without turning until soft.  The flavors will caramelize (like sweet potato fries) but preparation is simpler and the cooking time less exacting.  Slender sweet potato fries go from undercooked to overcooked in the blink of an eye.
Butternut winter squash – Almost everyone will receive the JWS6823 variety.  We tried several new winter squash varieties this year.  This one did quite well and has good flavor.  This variety produces small squash, about the same size as the Metro we sent a few weeks ago.
Collard greens – These end-of-season collards need more extended cooking than tender spring-grown collards.  They can handle long braising or simmering.  Remove the midveins before cooking.
Beauty Heart radish (round, white and pale green exterior, bright pink interior) – The interior color is lovely.  Slice thinly and add to salads, cook lightly in mixed vegetable medleys or cut into matchsticks and add to pasta salads.  We enjoy grated carrot and Beauty Heart salads all winter.

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Heads down

We are pushing hard to gather our storage crops while the weather is still mild.  That’s all Steve and I have to report.  Beth

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Steve steers our root harvester during parsnip harvest.  Kerry keeps the machine clear of leaves.

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The parsnips are particularly nice this year.  Boi helps harvest.

There are two more CSA deliveries after this week.
October 31/Nov. 1 (this week) = green EOW
November 7/8 = Final box for purple EOW members..
November 14/15 = Final box for weekly and green EOW members.

Our winter share deliveries start soon thereafter.  I emailed the schedule directly to members registered for those shares.  Our winter shares are all sold out.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week#24, green EOW)

Pak choy, 1 head
Carrots, 2 lb
Parsnips, about 1.5 lb
Sweet Italian frying peppers, mixed green & red, about 5
Daikon radish, about 1 lb
Yellow onions, 2
Garlic
Parsley, 1 bunch
Winter squash AND/OR Romanesco broccoli

Next week’s box will probably contain russet potatoes, leeks, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, collard greens, carrots, Beauty Heart radish and more.

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Daikon radish (slender white roots, at left in photo) – These radishes are good cooked or raw. Grated daikon is a nice addition to salads. We often make a salad of grated carrots and radishes, with Asian-style dressing (rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce, minced garlic).
Parsnips (tapered cream-colored roots, at right in photo) – Those long, white roots are not carrots, they are parsnips. The two vegetables are related.  When cooked, parsnips are sweet and starchy.  For the best flavor, brown them to caramelize the sugars.  Here are a few ideas for parsnip preparation:
– Caramelize the parsnips by roasting them in a vegetable medley.
– Parsnip fries are delicious: cut like French fries, coat very lightly with oil, place on a cookie sheet and roast in a hot oven until brown and cooked through.
– Try substituting grated parsnips in a potato pancake recipe. They brown beautifully and are very tasty.
– Steve loves pan-fried parsnips with onions and garlic.
Pak choy (large head with green stems & leaves) – Looks like bok choy, acts like bok choy.
Italian frying peppers – We’ve held these peppers in storage so please use them quickly.  These are sweet peppers, not hot.
Garlic – The heads are quite small.  As I explained previously, the garlic crop was terrible across the Midwest.  These small heads are our last garlic for the season.  Our garlic grower John Hendrickson needs to replant all the remaining large and medium heads for next year’s crop.
Winter squash – Some members will receive winter squash, some will get Romanesco instead.  Some will receive colorful Carnival or Celebration squash.  See photo below.  These are acorn hybrids.  The coloring resembles Sweet Dumpling or delicata but the flavor is mild, reflecting their acorn parentage.  A few members will receive Sugar Dumpling (not shown in photo; yellow/green striped with smooth shoulder at the stem).  These are are smaller and taste like Sweet Dumplings.  They resemble the front left squash in the photo.
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Carnival squash at left, Celebration squash at right.

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Is it over yet? No, not yet …

There are three more deliveries after this week.
October 24/25 (this week) – purple EOW
October 31/Nov. 1 – green EOW
November 7/8 – Purple EOW members get their final box.
November 14/15 – Weekly and green EOW members get their final box.

Farm News: Freeze
It froze hard every night this week, 25 – 26 F.  This is not unusual for late October but we were working in shorts just last week.  We still have many fall and winter storage crops to harvest.  Beets, carrots, leeks, Brussels sprouts, and greens can handle a string of cold nights.  Cabbage is more sensitive so we put 40,000 lb into storage this week, enough to last through St. Patrick’s Day in March.  Next up on our harvest list: beets, celeriac, and winter radishes.  These storage crops are very important to our business.  Almost 20% of our yearly sales happen after mid-November, mostly as sales to our store customers.

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Above, Bri rescues beet seedlings in mid-August.  The weeds were enormous.  We considered abandoning the planting but did not want to sacrifice the beets.

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Now two months have passed and we just harvested those beets for your CSA box this week.  The extra effort paid off.  Above, Bri holds a cluster of golden beets.

One more u-pick photo and comment

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Member Robin Schmoldt sent the photo above from our Oct 6 u-pick, and wrote to tell us about her family’s experience that day.

“This year, (our daughter) Emma was ready to go to the farm.  She had an absolute blast.  For us, it was wonderful to have a chance to start teaching her where good food comes from.  For her, it was amazing to see a real farm and not just illustrations in her books.  Thank you so, so much for providing this opportunity.  Emma’s only two, so she’s still new to this forming-lasting-memories thing, but a week after her visit she would tell everyone she saw about how she “picked broccoli and ‘tee-matos’ and carrots and pumpkins”, so your farm obviously made quite the impression.  Thank you again!”

That’s exactly how we hope children will experience our farm events.  Sometimes Steve and I get so wrapped up in the planning details (tornado protocol! no dogs!) that we neglect to emphasize the joy of visiting the farm where your food is grown.  It can be a great experience at any age.  Thank you to all who visited and sent their photos and impressions.  We’ve enjoyed your comments so much.  Beth

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week#23, purple EOW)
The broccoli is amazingly productive this year.  We planted the usual amount but somehow ended up with much more broccoli than usual.

Red cabbage
Golden OR red beets, 2 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Leeks, about 1.5 lb
Onion, 1
Broccoli OR Romanesco broccoli, 1 or 2 heads
Bell peppers, 3 or 4
Poblano peppers, 3 or 4
Winter squash, 1 or 2, see note below

Next week’s box will probably contain carrots, parsnips, peppers, garlic and more.

Poblano peppers (triangular, shiny, red or dark green) – These hot peppers have great flavor, especially when roasted.
Bell peppers – We harvested these peppers before the frost.  They are mostly red peppers, with a few green, yellow and orange mixed in.  We have some Italian frying peppers stashed away for next week’s box.  That will be the end of the peppers.
Winter squash – We have many different types of squash to distribute this week.  You will receive one or two squash from this list.  All types need to be eaten soon.  They are all ‘short-season’ types that will not store for long.  Store at room temperature with good air circulation, eg on your kitchen counter where you can keep an eye on them.

  • delicata (long, slender, striped green and yellow) OR
  • Sweet Dumpling (round, striped yellow/green, recessed stem) OR
  • Sugar Dumpling (round, striped yellow/green, smooth shoulder at the stem) OR
  • acorn squash (round, dark green) OR
  • pie pumpkin (looks like a small, solid pumpkin)
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Remaining schedule; u-pick photos

There are four more deliveries after this week.
Here is the schedule for our final deliveries.
October 24/25 – purple EOW
October 31/Nov. 1 – green EOW
November 7/8 – Purple EOW members get their final box.
November 14/15 – Weekly and green EOW members get their final box.

Last chance for 2013 receipt
Still need a 2013 receipt?  Please follow the instructions below this week.  I need to get the website updated for our 2014 season.
– Go to http://tipiproduce.csasignup.com/members/statusemail .
– Enter the email address you’ve given us for your CSA membership.
– You will promptly receive a receipt via email.

Virtual tour of our pumpkin/gleaning u-pick
The lovely photos below were taken by members during our October 6 u-pick.  They capture the enthusiasm of the day.  I couldn’t include everyone’s photos so I’ve chosen a selection to highlight different parts of the u-pick.  This u-pick is the most in-depth way to experience our farm.  Members wander the fields and dig into individual crops.  The first four photos are from Sara Dyer.  Can you see how engaged her children are?

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The photo below is from Shelly Duffield.  I saw Shelly and her son at the end of the u-pick and asked why his clothes were soaked.  He ate the entire melon.

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The watermelon field is the furthest from the buildings.  See the people in the distance near the neighbor’s soybean field?  That’s how far Shelly and her family walked to get their melon.
White row cover billows in the foreground.  We covered that field of greens and radishes to speed their growth.

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Michelle Mize sent the next two wonderful photos.

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Finally, Rebecca Paulson sent the photo below and wrote “I liked this photo of me and my two pumpkins -though I might be biased.”

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Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week #22, green EOW)

Butternut winter squash, 1
Satina yellow potatoes, 3.5 lb
Yukina greens
Italian beans, 1.5 lb
Yellow onions, about 2
Broccoli (almost everyone) OR Romanesco broccoli (Vilas only)
Scallions, 1 bunch
Italian frying peppers, mixed colors

Next week’s box will probably contain winter squash, cabbage, Italian beans, carrots, peppers and more.

Butternut winter squash – Our first butternuts are cured and ready to eat.  This is a variety called ‘Metro’ that cures quickly.
Satina potatoes – These pale yellow potatoes are from Chris Malek of Malek Family Stewardship Farm.
Yukina greens – This relative of mustard greens is my favorite fall cooking green (although it is pretty tasty raw too). Both stems and leaves are edible. They reduce substantially when cooked. I stir-fry lots of onion or garlic in olive oil, add chopped Yukina and stir until wilted and cooked. Season with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and a dusting of smoked paprika.
Italian beans – It’s crazy to have fresh beans in October.  Steve planted this field in early August.  It was a long shot but we were lucky with the warm weather this fall.  The plants are under row cover and we should have more beans for next week’s box, as long as they survive the frost this weekend.
Italian peppers – It is time to wrap up our pepper harvests, so we’ve begun stripping the pepper fields.  We are sending sweet Italian frying peppers this week, in green, red or yellow.  Enjoy them; soon the peppers will be done.

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Hooky

I took the afternoon off to wander the farm with our son and visit his favorite spots.

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Beautiful inky cap mushrooms sprouted since Steve parked this implement.  They’ll be gone before he needs it again.

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We marveled at drifts of milkweed floss.

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Our steepest hill is a blur.  Soak up some warmth this week if you can.  It won’t last much longer.

We are running low on CSA boxes.
Please return all your empty boxes. Remember, we ask that you leave the empty CSA boxes at your site this year. Take your produce home in your own bags or the plastic bags we provide. Outpost members, it’s too disruptive to do this in the stores. Just take the CSA box home and return it at your next delivery.

Local Thyme review
I’d like to remind everyone that we subscribe to Pat and Laura’s ‘Local Thyme’ menu service for recipes customized to use all of your CSA veggies.  We must decide soon whether to buy the service again next year, and will survey your thoughts in a week or two.  If you haven’t used the menus yet, give them a try.  I’ll send the instructions again in this week’s email.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes.
Sweet Dumpling winter squash, 2
Green tomatoes, 1.8 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Celeriac, 1
Tatsoi, 1 head
Onions, 2
Colored bell peppers, 2
Broccoli OR Romanesco broccoli
Scallions, 1 bunch

Next week’s box will probably contain winter squash, potatoes, Yukina greens, scallions and more.

Sweet Dumpling winter squash (round, speckled green and white or yellow) – This is one of our most flavorful winter squashes and a personal favorite.  They are thinned-wall and sweet.  Like the delicata we sent a few weeks ago, these have a central cavity that can be stuffed.  This is another ‘short season’ winter squash, i.e. a type that does not store well.  Eat soon.
Green tomatoes – We like to include green tomatoes in the CSA boxes for their sour/tangy/citrusy flavor, a note that is generally missing from our boxes.  Some will be fully green, some will have a red blush.  It is the end of the tomato season, so some of the green tomatoes have small flaws that need trimming.  Store in the refrigerator.
Our farm cooks have a few favorite ways to prepare green tomatoes.
– Fried green tomatoes. This is the classic way to prep green tomatoes.
– If you prefer to avoid frying, try slicing the tomatoes, dredging in seasoned bread crumbs, then baking on an oiled cookie sheet until softened.
– Use as a substitute for tomatillos.
Beth’s favorite:  Prepare your usual tomato sauce, but substitute chopped green tomatoes for red. Add a little water to the pot to start the cooking process, as it takes longer for green tomatoes to soften.  Excellent as a chutney or as pizza sauce.
– Add thin slices to casseroles.
I tried the last suggestion. I added thinly sliced raw green tomatoes while preparing lasagna, then baked the lasagna for one hour (I use the raw-noodle approach that requires long cooking).  The green tomatoes were a great addition.  They softened but kept their shape and tang.  I also added sliced red peppers and minced greens to the lasagna.  All were nicely cooked by the end of an hour.
Celeriac (knobby, round, bizarre-looking vegetable which smells like celery) – Flavorful celeriac is good raw or cooked. It is excellent in mixed roasted veggies or in soup. It’s especially good in cream soups, alone or mixed with potatoes. Grated raw celeriac is a great starting point for winter salads. Celeriac will store in your refrigerator for months. Cut off chunks as you need them. Peel before using.
Tatsoi (large rosette of dark green leaves) – This green is related to bok choy and mustard greens.  Eat both stems and leaves.  Use in any recipe that calls for mustard greens.

Scallion, Kimchi and Scallop Pancakes; a new family favorite.
Our family loves everything with scallions, including this new favorite dish.  The recipe is adapted from a Food52 dish.  We double the recipe to feed four people.  We prepare pancakes without kimchi for our kids, then add kimchi to the remaining batter for Steve and me.  You can buy kimchi at many Asian food stores.

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 Tbsp water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup minced spinach or other green
8 ounces bay scallops, drained
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon paprika OR ground cayenne pepper
1 cup store-bought kimchi, chopped

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil

In a large bowl, beat eggs then add water, flour, scallions, minced greens, scallops, garlic and paprika.  Add kimchi now if you wish or add later after you’ve cooked a few pancakes.  Stir to combine.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add some batter and pat into a large pancake.  The batter should be thick enough that you can shape it in the pan.  Add a spoonful of flour or water to adjust.

Cook until strongly browned, then flip and continue cooking until both sides are brown and the scallops are cooked.  Continue adding oil (1 Tbsp now) and cooking pancakes.  Transfer pancakes to a cutting board to cut each cake into 6 wedges.

Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients to make a dipping sauce (soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil).  Serve the hot wedges with small bowls of dipping sauce.

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Your slip is showing.

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Sweet potatoes are tenacious.  Plant an insubstantial cutting called a slip and you will find yourself with 10-foot vines after a few months.  The slip that Steve holds above is relatively robust.  We’ve planted spindly, leafless, wilted slips and they’ve still thrived.  I took the photo in June when our slips arrived in the mail.

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We planted in June and harvested this week.  Steve (on tractor) pulls a digger to lift the sweet potatoes out of the ground.  Clint and Alex direct the flow of soil and sweet potatoes and the crew picks up the potatoes by hand.  It is a simple system but adequate for our once-a-year harvest.  We enjoyed the lovely weather this year while reminiscing about last year’s cold, wet harvest under threat of frost.  We learn something new each year.  Last year we learned that waiting for a little extra crop growth is not worth the risk of harvesting under ghastly conditions.

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Each slip can produce a cluster of fat roots.

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Blue finds an unusually big root.  We find that sweet potatoes are good at any size.  The roots will cure over the next few weeks to sweeten and set their skins.  We will pack them in your CSA boxes once they are fully cured.

Lackluster garlic season.
The garlic crop was poor across the Midwest this year.  The growers we know (including our supplier John Hendrickson) lost large portions of their crop but were puzzled why.  A plausible explanation is that the 2012 crop was infected with disease (aster yellows) but grew well enough to produce a crop.  The diseased garlic seemed fine when re-planted last fall but didn’t survive the winter or dwindled away as it began to grow this year.  That was exactly what happened to our green garlic this spring.

Garlic is in short supply this fall.  We only have two more garlic deliveries (including this week).  Buy yourself a stash of local garlic if you can find it.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes

green cabbage, 1
acorn squash, 1
leeks, 2
carrots, 2 lb
garlic, 1 head
slicing tomatoes, about 2 lb.
broccoli (1 – 2 heads) OR Romanesco broccoli (1 head)
yellow onion, 1
A mix of sweet peppers: Italian frying peppers and a bell pepper

Some sites will get an heirloom tomato OR raspberries.

Next week’s box will contain winter squash, carrots, peppers and more.

Cabbage – We have a bumper crop of cabbage.  Look for our cabbage in the food co-ops all winter.  It’s been a great season for all the brassicas: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesco.  The greens suffered during the droughty summer but everything else did great.
Acorn squash (round, ridged, dark green) – We have a nice crop of winter squash this year.  Acorn squash are fairly mild and benefit from browning the cut surfaces to bring out their flavor.  We like to roast or pan-fry slices so they caramelize.
Carrots – We finally dug the first carrots.  We scheduled them for the past three boxes but delayed harvest because there was too much other produce for the CSA boxes.  Enjoy!
Italian frying peppers (red or green, elongated) – These are sweet.  Don’t mix them with last week’s hot Anaheim chili.

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Equinox tasks

Our tasks are varied and interesting as we transition from summer to fall.  Here’s what we accomplished this week.

  • Harvest, harvest, harvest.  Many summer crops are still ripening (tomatoes, peppers) but the fall crops are ready too.  Workers who joined us this year have little experience with cauliflower and broccoli, so they are learning these “new” crops.  We harvested almost all the winter squash.  I’m eyeing the sweet potato field.  We’d like to get some dug this week.
  • Till down finished crops.  Wow, it’s a relief to finish off some weedy fields.  The squash, melon and cucumber fields are done.  The crew pulled out the drip tape and plastic mulch then Larry tilled, killing off many, many weeds.  It was an instant farm make-over.
  • Steve seeded the final vegetable planting: a field of spinach which will over-winter as small plants.  It should be ready to harvest for the first CSA box next year.  Steve cleaned and lubricated the planter and tucked it away for winter.  It joins the transplanter and other tools that we’re finished with for the year.  There is one more thing to plant (green garlic) but plant whole bulbs by hand and we won’t need the seeder.
  • Plant cover crops.  Lush cover crops of rye and hairy vetch are the backbone of our soil management system.  They improve soil texture and fix nitrogen naturally for next year’s crops.  Steve plants fields to cover crops as they are freed from summer crops.  He’ll continue this job over the next month.
  • Wrap up Bike the Barns.  This didn’t involve much, just tidying the areas used for lunch service and putting the greenhouse benches back in place.  The rental companies returned to pick up the tents, toilets, plates, tables, and an enormous grill rented to cook the homemade sausage.
  • Host a field day for other farmers.  We welcomed a group of 30 farmers for a tour and discussion.  The topic was growing, harvesting and storing late fall crops for winter sales.  That’s one of our specialties.
  • Fix things.  Larry got one of our pick-up trucks running again.  The crew cheered.  They have missed the vehicle during recent harvests.  Steve and Larry worked on our root harvester today in preparation for the beginning of carrot harvests next week.  The 60-year-old harvester needs to be in reliable shape for the rest of the fall, especially during November when we bring in our winter’s supply of carrots, beets, parsnips and other roots.
  • Pack CSA boxes for all of you loyal Tipi members!


Bike the Barns 2013:
rain + hardy bicyclists + great food = success
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Wow, the Bike the Barns (BTB) fundraiser through FairShare CSA Coalition was exciting this year.  We hosted the lunch stop.  Six hundred bicyclists registered and over 500 rode 30 to 70 miles through the rain.  The riders remained in good spirits even after getting soaked.  We cleared one greenhouse the day before the event, once we realized it was going to be chilly and wet.  The dry greenhouse was a welcome place to eat lunch.

Why do we host the BTB ride?  We are happy to support fundraising for Fair Share’s “Partner Shares” program.  This program supports CSA shares for low-income households, including some of our longterm CSA members who have turned to it during financial crises.  I’m glad the program is there to help.

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Rented tents and other supplies arrived during beautiful weather on Friday.

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By Sunday the weather turned wet and cold, but didn’t keep the riders away.  Ironically, that was our biggest rain in eight weeks.

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Cooks from Monty’s Blue Plate served lunch in our outdoor washroom.

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The ingredients were sourced from local farms.

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Our largest greenhouse was a warm place to eat.

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Steve (in yellow) did not get many takers for his farm tours.

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The sun emerged in time for the after party at Evansville’s Lake Leota Park.

What’s up with the cauliflower??
Do you remember the cool nights in August?  Well, our cauliflower and broccoli plants formed early heads in response.  They are nice quality and very early.  We will pack broccoli and cauliflower for everyone again this week.  Basically, you are getting much of your October cauliflower now, so expect fewer heads in late October.  On the other hand, the broccoli will probably produce steadily.  Amazingly, even the Romanesco broccoli has formed heads.  This is great news, as we often lose many Romanesco to frost before they can reach harvestable size.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes
We send one Anaheim chili per box this week.  Anaheims resemble the Italian frying peppers that we sent last week.  Let me repeat something I wrote a few weeks ago. “Anaheims are hot peppers.  They usually have medium spiciness although it varies from pepper to pepper.  Anaheims are easily mistaken for Italian frying peppers.  We never send them in the same box for that reason.  Keep this in mind if you have frying peppers left over from last week.”

Superior white potatoes, 3.5 lb.
Pak choy, 1 head
Slicing tomatoes, 3 lb
Red bell peppers, 1 or 2
Broccoli
Cauliflower OR Romanesco broccoli
Yellow onions, 2
Chili peppers: 2 poblanos and 1 Anaheim
Cilantro

Some members will get raspberries OR an heirloom tomato.

Next week’s box will probably contain winter squash, peppers, carrots and more.

Superior white potatoes – These are from Chris Malek of Malek Family Stewardship Farm.  Chris grows all our potatoes.  Superiors are excellent all-purpose potatoes, useful for boiling, baking, roasting, etc.  They are a true Wisconsin variety and were developed at one of the UW research farms.
Pak choy (large head with green leaves and pale green or white stems) – This Asian green is very similar to bok choy.  Like bok choy, it is good for stir-frying or sautéing.  It is also good in soups.  You can think of the stems and leaves as two separate vegetables.  The stems require longer cooking.  The leaves will cook almost as quickly as spinach.  Bok choy stores well, so feel free to pull off leaves as you need them, or use the whole head at once.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag.
Slicing tomatoes – Tomato quality is still good (thank you dry weather) so we continue to send them.
Red bell peppers – Many of these are a small but flavorful variety called King Crimson.
Cauliflower – Some heads are yellowish because they were exposed to sun.  The color difference is harmless.
Romanesco broccoli (pale green conical head, possible tinged with purple) – Only one site will get Romanesco this week.  This is one of our prettiest vegetables.  Look at it closely to appreciate its branched beauty and repeating spiral pattern.  It is called broccoli, but is closely related to cauliflower which it resembles in flavor and texture.  Like broccoli and cauliflower, it is fine eaten raw or cooked.  It requires cooking times intermediate between the two.  Don’t overcook it.  I usually steam it, then dress it simply with a butter-lemon-garlic-mustard sauce.
Poblanos chilis (2, red or dark green, blocky triangular shape)
Anaheim chilis (1, red or medium green, long tapered shape)
Both chilis are of medium heat.  Both are easy to peel once roasted.  As usual, the heat is concentrated in the seeds and midveins.  Remove the seeds and midveins is to lessen the chili’s heat.  We roast these chilis and add to many dishes: tomato soup, salsa, lasagne or other casseroles, etc.

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