Week #18, Badger on the farm!

While puttering in our sand pit one day in July, I looked up and saw a badger peeking out of its den.  This is quite rare; badgers are elusive.  I took the video below with my cell phone.  You can see that the badger was curious about me too.

This creature has brightened my summer, even though I have not seen it again.  It continues living in our sand pit, digging extensive tunnels within the walls of the pit and in the nearby tree line.  I find fresh prints and digging every day.  Before noticing the badger, I visited the sandpit frequently in spring, planting prairie seedlings along its dry walls.  The badger has dug tunnels everywhere except the area I planted.  Perhaps it recognizes that as my territory.  At first, I worried about disturbing it but then I saw this video of various animals romping outside badger dens in southern Wisconsin.

The sandpit is a special place for our family.  The previous owners of our farm sold sand for road construction, leaving an open bowl-shaped pit in a hillside.  Over the years, it was a giant sandbox when our children were young, then a sled run, then a sheltered and exotic fire pit.  We’ve ceded it to the badger for now.  Beth

#2 Grade Red Peppers

I write about pepper grading every year.  Returning members can say “yeah, yeah” and skip ahead.  New members, please read.
Many of the red bell peppers we send in the CSA boxes will be our #2 grade.  We do this to avoid waste and to deliver good value to our CSA members.  The #2 grade peppers are excellent eating quality, but are not quite pretty enough to sell to stores.  As a result, we place a much lower value on these peppers.  This allows us to provide generous amounts of peppers over the course of the season.  We feel this is a good exchange, even if it means you occasionally open a pepper and find that it needs trimming.  Here are the reasons that peppers are downgraded from #1 grade to #2 grade:

  • They may have a minor blemish, or
  • They may have minor insect damage, or
  • They may be very ripe and beginning to wrinkle.  (These are especially sweet and delicious as they are fully ripe.  These cannot be sold to stores because their shelf life is short.  You will find that the texture is less crisp than a #1 grade pepper, but the flavor more than makes up for it.)
  • They might be partially red and partially green.
  • Others are just too small.

The eating quality is fine (or excellent) for all these #2 peppers.  We throw away all peppers that we suspect have rot inside (although one may occasionally slip through in either #1 or #2 grade.)  Today’s peppers are a mix of #1 and #2 grade.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes (week #18, Sept 14/15, green EOW)

Slicing tomatoes, ~4.4 lb
Green beans, 1.2 lb
Celery, 1 head
Red peppers, 3 – 4, mostly red frying peppers
Swiss chard, 1 bunch
Leek, 1 or 2
Yellow onion, 1 medium
Lettuce, red or green leaf
Zucchini/squash, ~1
Cucumber, ~1
A few sites get an heirloom tomato.

Next week’s box will probably contain tomatoes, peppers, onion, green beans, some kind of greens and more.

Celery – Our celery is more strongly flavored and more fibrous than typical grocery store celery.  Taste it raw then decide how you want to use it, raw or cooked.  This is one of our better batches of celery, which we pack in the CSA boxes just once per year.  We’ve pushed the planting date later.  We want to avoid summer harvests because the celery is tough if it matures during hot weather.  Harvest too late in the fall and insect problems accumulate.  Who knew celery is so finicky to grow?
Frying (long) and bell (blocky) peppers – You’ll get 3 or 4 peppers this week, based on size.  Everyone gets frying peppers but some get frying peppers plus a bell pepper.  Frying peppers have lower moisture, making them ideal for browning in a pan with a little oil.  You can also roast them in the oven.  I cut into pieces, lightly oil and put close to the broiler until they are a bit charred.  It doesn’t take much broiling to develop the roasted flavor.
Yellow onion – This week’s onion is a yellow storage onion, the type you’ll find most often in the grocery store.  These are pungent and will fry well.


Visit our Recipe Log, a list of all our 2017 recipes. Check June 29 for other cabbage and Swiss chard recipes.


Comforting Classics
Wilted Chard with Almonds
Summer Squash, Green Bean and Tomato Sauté
Braised Sausage, Peppers and Onions
Tuna Noodle Casserole

Outside the Box Recipes
Sausage, Brown Rice and Lentil Stuffed Chard
Pungent Green Beans and Tomatoes with Cumin, Garlic and Ginger
North African Roasted Vegetable Salad
Mozzarella and Celery Salad

Quick and Easy Meal
Red Bean Jambalaya


Adapted from Naturally Ella
Though technically a side dish, I absolutely have a meal in mind for you here. Do yourself a favor and pick up some tuna steaks from the grocery store and then serve this simple dish on the side of seared tuna.  Tuna and romesco is one of my all time favorite combinations and the addition of crunchy, gently blanched green beans is just heavenly.  Lauren.
Takes 1 hour
Serves 4 as a side

2-3 Italian frying peppers
1-1/2 cups unsalted roasted almonds, divided
1/4 cup diced leek (if you made the African peanut stew, just make sure you leave this much on the side)
1 small to medium tomato, cored and seeds removed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1+ pounds green beans

  1. Preheat the broiler of your oven and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove.
  2. Place peppers on a baking sheet and let cook under the broiler for 15-25 minutes (it will vary a lot based on how hot your broiler can get), turning occasionally until blackened (and I mean really blackened) on all sides.
  3. Remove from oven, place in a bowl and cover with a plate. Allow to cool for 30 minutes for easiest peeling.
  4. While the peppers roast, trim the ends of your green beans and submerge them in boiling water for three minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool to the touch. Leave in colander to drain further until ready to use.
  5. In a separate small pan, toast remaining almonds over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside.
  6. Once peppers have rested, remove from bowl and peel the skin away. Remove the seeds and toss the peppers into a food processor. Add 1 cup of almonds, leek, tomato, vinegar, spices and oil to food processor. Process until mostly smooth.
  7. Toss with cooled beans in a large bowl and sprinkle with remaining almonds.

This time of year, the meal I’m always dreaming of is African peanut stew. I’m not sure why but for me it’s the quintessential mid-September dishes. It uses up a few pounds of tomatoes without being too tomato-forward and the spicy flavors warm you through September’s coolest nights. The peanut butter adds heft to a meal that would otherwise almost be too light. It’s a stick to your bones kind of a meal and everything I’m craving this time of year. Lauren.
Serves 4-6
Takes 50 minutes

2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large leek (white and pale green part only), halved and sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt plus more to season
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch chard, divided
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red Italian frying pepper, seeded and diced
1 zucchini, cut into space cubes
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you have a jalapeno or other hot pepper lying around from a previous week just dice that and throw that in instead)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 pounds tomatoes, cored and diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

For serving:
2 cups cooked rice
1/2-1 cup roasted peanuts
1-2 limes, quartered

  1. In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, leek, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes until softened and fragrant.
  2. While that cooks, remove the chard stems from the leaves. Very thinly slice the stems and throw them into the pot with the onions and leeks. Roughly chop the chard greens and set them aside for later use. Add celery, red pepper and zucchini. Saute 2-3 minutes longer until all the veggies have softened. Add spices and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. You want the spices to become fragrant and toast ever so slightly but not burn. The second you smell even the faintest burnt flavor, add the tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes until significantly reduced.
  3. Add vegetable stock, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Continue simmering very gently for another 15 minutes. Add chard leaves and cook until just wilted. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may want a little more salt, sugar or spice.
  4. Serve over cooked rice with peanuts and lime juice.


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