Monday, August 24, 2009

CSA For The End of August

Hard to believe the next CSA share will be in September! This will certainly be remembered as the summer that wasn't. Sunday night a great thunder and lightening storm, along with high wind gusts. More rain thru Monday morning, which is not really what we need right now. Will we ever get a ripe tomato? In the hoop house, the Ilda golden grape tomatoes are loaded with fruit but they are all green as grass.

The one crop doing very well is the potatoes. Farmer Boy is growing about twenty five varieties this year. Not all will be for CSA or the markets because some are hard to find and he only has small quantities. Everything he harvests of those varieties will go into the root cellar to become next years' seed potatoes as he tries to increase his stock. But CSA and our market customers will have a chance to try some very interesting varieties: Russian Blue, All Red, French Fingerling, Banana Fingerling and German Butterball, to name a few. CSA will get some small bags over the next few weeks, and hopefully enough will be left over for them to pick a larger quantity of their favourite at the last CSA share. Watch for the Potato Primer on this blog in the next few weeks.

This week, for the Full Shares: 5 lbs. Sangria potatoes, 2 heads garlic, 4 large onions, 1 lb. mixed green and yellow beans, 1 lb. Dragon Tongue beans, 1 lb. Snow Peas, 1 pak choi, broccoli, 2 bundles carrots, Italian Largo summer squash and a Papaya Pear summer squash.

For the Part Shares: 2 lbs Sangria potatoes, 1.5 lbs of one of the assorted specialty potatoes, 1 head garlic, 2 large onions, 1 lb. mixed green and yellow beans, 1 lb. Dragon Tongue beans, 1 bundle carrots, 1 Italian Largo summer squash and 1 Papaya Pear summer squash.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Love a Busker!

We always love a busker at the Farmers' Market at Riverbank Discovery Centre, or any Farmers' Market, for that matter. We absolutely adore a young man playing the cello!! Nick and his Mom had talked to us a few weeks ago about coming, but last weekend was tooo rainy. So, they arrived this week - and it was delightful! Unfortunately, due to time constraints, they didn't arrive until the second hour of the market, missing that early market madness and many customers. Still, Nick sounded great and made a little bit of money, and promised to come back, maybe with another musical chum. We can hardly wait!

Sharon Trains for the Markets!

Sharon's getting a crash course on working the Farmers' Market. I'm sneaking away next week; it's totally unheard of for one of us to leave in the summer, but we've had such great help this year that we figured it was possible. So, Sharon's going to be Farmer Boy's sidekick all next week. She's eaten some of our veggies, but we loaded her up with more to eat this weekend so that she has personal experience. We think it's really important to have eaten what we sell so that you can talk to customers about taste, texture and preparation. She's learned about hauling around big signs, big, folding tables and big crates of veggies, doing displays with our collection of wicker baskets, and she's learned the old Farmers' Market saying 'Pile 'em high, watch 'em buy!' She's over-heard our standard explanation of all the different potatoes and summer squashes; hard to retain all the information. But, she'll do great: she's good with the public, fast on her feet and and can take a hectic pace. Good luck, Sharon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Chicks Move On Up!

The Chicks are out-growing their makeshift coop; there is no longer any doubt about it. They've discovered from their new roosts that they can get up on top of the walls and that is where almost half are roosting on a regular basis over the last two days. This is a concern as they could now get down onto the floor of the barn and basically wander away into the shelter belt and bush. Or a dog could decide they were a plaything. Or a fox or coyote or heavens-knows-what-else-that-lurks could decide to have them for dinner. But the chicken coop does progress! After a couple of rainy days, building resumed yesterday and the coop now has a third wall. Whoopee! No more building for the next three days, though, because it is Farmers' Markets weekend! One everyday for the next three - too busy for building!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CSA - Middle of August!

Hard to believe August is more than half done! It was cool enough last night to make one think is might be the middle of September. We got down to 4 C. (about 40 F.), not cozy for us or the veggies. After all the rain of the weekend, cool temperatures can lead to root rot and other nasty surprises, so we are certainly hoping it warms up promptly! (Will we ever get a ripe tomato?)

We'd like to apologize right now if things seem a little dirty to our CSA members. Things were actually filthy from all the rain and we have washed down everything, some things twice and they still seem gritty. So, careful in your food preparation, please!

Linda has provided the pak choi, snow peas and broccoli today. We foresee some good stir fries! We're pleased to welcome Bryan and Sarah of Creekside Organics as a growing partner today! Bryan and Sarah have provided the lettuce. We're so happy to add their great product to the mix, especially since we've had problems with our lettuce production all season. Farmer Boy has now declared raspberry season finished: we got a pint for everybody but it took a long time!

So, in the baskets this week: Full Shares have 5 lbs. Norland potatoes, 2 lbs. Russian Blue potatoes, one veggie marrow (please see preceding post), 1 patty pan, bundle of pak choi, 2 bags mixed beans, 1 small bag snow peas, 2 bags lettuce, bundle of green onions, 2 bundles of cooking onions, 2 bundles of carrots, 1 pint raspberries, one cabbage, a small bundle basil.

This week the Part Shares have 3 lbs. Sangria potatoes, 1.5 lbs. Russian Blue potatoes, 1 patty pan squash, 1 bag mixed beans, small bag snow peas, bag of broccoli, bundle of green onions, bundle of cooking onions, bag of lettuce, bundle of carrots, pint of raspberries, bundle of basil.

Vegetable Marrow

Vegetable Marrow is a little known, under-used squash. We're giving it it's own place because there is some discussion as to whether it is a summer or winter squash. We personally use it like a winter squash and do not eat the skin. Apparently, if taken very young, it can be used like a zucchini. It is a tradition in my family to grow White Vegetable Marrow and use it as an entree, stuffed with a pork sausage stuffing the same stuffing my family uses in a turkey). It is such a thing in my family that I have had to ship it by Greyhound to my sisters in Alberta, when they were unable to find it there. We have made a small amount of people very, very happy at the Farmers' Market by having it for sale. The vast majority of the population, however, have never seen it or heard of it. We have always grown the White Vegetable Marrow, but after having a few requests, this year we have also grown the Long Green Trailing Marrow. We located the seeds from a British source and had them mailed over to us.

We have not yet eaten a Long Green Trailing, but White Vegetable Marrow is a very mild squash with pale green flesh. It has a texture somewhat like a melon. On its' own, steamed or baked, it is rather bland. However, it takes on flavours beautifully, and is delightful stuffed. You can use any mixture that you might use to stuff a tomato or pepper: ground beef, pork sausage, vegetable mixtures, herbs of almost any kind enhance a Marrow. Our common practice is to cut the Marrow in two, scoop out the seed cavity (which can be chopped up and added to the stuffing), fill the cavity with your stuffing mixture, put it back together or cover both halves with tin foil and bake until tender and easily pierced with a fork.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer Squash Primer, Part 2

Our guided tour of summer squash continues, with our most used varieties in this episode. On the right, in this picture, is Papaya Pear, a dense, meaty squash with a nutty flavour. Farmer Boy loves it for the barbecue: he'll slice it into medallions, soak it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with herbs like tarragon (his current fav). Then, straight onto the barbecue, where you can grill it hard, without it going mushy. It will take a little while longer than regular zucchini. Papaya Pear is also awesome sliced raw for salads or dips, or cut into bit size pieces for stir fries. It's super for those packages in tin foil.

On the left, is Patty Pan or Scallopini squash. Kids refer to it as the flying saucer squash. It's another dense, nutty flavoured squash with a bit of a melon taste. In small sizes, it is absolutely fabulous for roasting - in tin foil packages or straight on a barbecue. When it gets larger, quite big, it is super stuffed with any stuffing you might use in a tomato or pepper. After roasting in the oven or where ever, you can cut it into little pie-shaped pieces for serving: looks very cute on the plate!

Missing from this picture is Crookneck squash, the Southern States delicacy often served battered and deep fried. It's a creamy, butter squash with a delicate texture. Farmer Boy has coated it in corn meal and Cajun spices, yummy!! It is missing from this picture because it did not germinate AT ALL in this cold, wet spring. Zip, zero, nada, absolutely nothing - a huge disappointment!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Summer Night's Storm

No, the picture is NOT a collection of our eggs. Early Friday morning, about 4:00 AM, we were both awakened by a huge commotion outside. Thinking of our animals we jumped up and raced to the window - even I, who can usually sleep through massive thunder! No it wasn't a coyote raid or hyped-up cars doing 360's in our back field. It was hail: hail like we've never seen here at Aagaard Farms. And not the usual two minutes; twenty minutes of pounding, clattering, shattering hail the size of some of our small eggs. Combined with hard, driving rain and stiff breezes, it was a douzy of an evening! We were up checking windows, patrolling the sun room to make sure didn't crack and watching the sheer magnitude of almost constant lightening. Farmer Boy grabbed these hail stones in the pictures after if finally let up, so they've washed away some from their original size.

Friday's damage report: not bad really. We expected much worse, we even delayed going outside when the sun did come up. But it really wasn't as anywhere nearly as bad as it could have been! The hoop house is perforated in about fifty places but the tomatoes and cabbage inside are fine. One plot of tomatoes at the far east of the gardens is ruined: it looks like somebody stomped on all of them. Another plot closer to the house just has a few broken branches. Some leaves broken or shredded in the winter squash patch and on some rows of potatoes, many raspberries knocked off but everything else looks pretty good. The rest of our season could have been over, just like that........

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Coop in Motion

With the help of the crew, we're somewhat caught up; work on the chicken coop progresses. We've got walls, two out of four isn't bad for a couple of days work between harvesting for CSA and the Neighbourhood Country Market. We'll have a south facing window and door, and there will be a window on the east side. Little chicken doors, at ground level, will be on the north and east side. New fencing will be built, tight up on the building. We're probably going to divide the coop and the two doors will open onto two separate pastures. That way we can keep the Isa Browns and the Leghorns separate: tooooo many girls for Rocky, otherwise. Don't want to stress the rooster, don't you know?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CSA on a Hot Summer Day!

Finally, a day that feels like real summer! First time we've really had to worry about things wilting, including us and the staff. Maybe the darn cucumbers will grow now (note to self: water cucumbers tomorrow). A good pick on raspberries for everyone; probably the last of the raspberries for CSA. As the crop wanes and the picking gets harder, it is less worth our time to pick. Probably some raspberries for the weekend Farmers' Markets and then that will be that. Linda came through again today: some gorgeous broccoli and snow peas for everyone, pac choi for the Full Shares. For us, onto some more interesting potato varieties, a wee share of our precious garlic (Farmer Boy has to talk pretty fast to get me to part with any of it!).

So, for the Full Shares: large bag snow peas, large broccoli, large dragon tongues bean, large Sangria red potato (currently our favourite potato), small bag fingerling potato (either banana or Linzer delicata), bunch of onions, two bunches of carrots, bunch of pac choi, 3 pints raspberries and garlic.

For the Part Shares: small bag snow peas, small broccoli, bag of dragon tongues beans, medium bag of Sangria red potatoes, small bag of fingerling (either banana or Linzer delicata), bunch of onions, bunch of carrots, garlic and two pints raspberries.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer Squash Primer, Part 1

We love summer squash. And there is soooo much more to the group than just zucchini. Summer squash, by general definition, are the squash with edible skin. They are usually ready mid-summer, earlier then winter squash, and do not store well. On the right, in the picture, is classic zucchini - this is black zucchini with a dark green skin, the most common sold in grocery stores. Next to it is golden zucchini, a variety called Goldrush. The golden zucchinis have a more delicate flavour and texture. In the middle of the photo is Italian Largo, in the Romanesco or Striata group. It has very delicate flesh, with few seeds and a nutty herbal flavour. The last two on the left are from the Middle Eastern or Cousa group. Second from the left is Lolita, and last on the left is Magda. Very distinct nutty flavour, white, firm flesh. All the summer squash are great raw, sauteed, stuffed, roasted, and in soups and stews. We find we use the firmer fleshed varieties like Magda more for soups, stews and stuffing. One of our regulars at the Farmers Markets, Charlotte, used thinly sliced Largo in place of noodles in a vegetarian lasagna. Yummmmmm!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Farmer Boy's Other Talents....

With family here to help out, Farmer Boy got the night off from going to the Friday Night Farmers' Market. But he kept busy....meeting us girls at the door upon our return with a golden tray of cocktail or beer of choice. The table was beautifully set; candlelight, place mats, cloth napkins. And waiting to be served: fresh pickerel with a raspberry sauce, lovely banana potatoes pan-fried with onions, broccoli and, not in the picture, Magda summer squash stuffed with goat cheese. Almost all local (not the goat cheese) and most from our garden! Ah, summer! For dessert: Eton Mess - and what a delight that was!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CSA Today!

It's a beautiful day after a rather disappointing long weekend. Saturday was alright but Sunday and Monday rather cold and blustery. I got up this morning to find Farmer Boy running around in shorts, a T-shirt, a heavy fleece and his Nordic toque with ear flaps! Wish I'd been together enough to get a picture, but I hadn't even had coffee yet. Put the family to work almost right away - niece Laura is weighing and packaging snow peas, sister Keltie is portioning fresh dill (awesome sprinkled on the new potatoes!)

Linda has come through big time again this week! Beautiful broccoli (how does she do it - and organically, too!), pak choi and snow peas. We're getting the first big pick on beans - we're taking Dragon Tongue, a heritage Dutch butter bean/Bortollo bean meaning big and flat. It's our favourite snap bean, big and meaty but stringless, with a mild bean taste. It can be left to grow on and dried for soup and stew beans, but we usually end of taking them all as fresh beans.
So, this week the Full Shares have: 2 lbs. Norland potatoes, 1 lb. Banana potatoes, 1 lb. snow peas, 1 lb. Dragon Tongue Beans, bunch of beets, broccoli, pak choi, 3 summer squash, 4 pints raspberries, fresh dill and fresh basil.

Part Shares have: 2 lbs Norland potatoes, 1/2 lb. snow peas, 1 lb. Dragon Tongue Beans, pak choi, broccoli, 2 summer squash, 2 pints raspberries, bag of spicy mesclun mix with nasturium blossoms, fresh dill and fresh basil.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Farmer Boy Gets Domestic!

'Tis the season.......for company. Yes, family arrives tomorrow so the Farm has been a whirl of domestic activity. Inside vacuuming, dusting, laundry and general straightening out. Outside, Farmer Boy is mowing, blowing and go-ing, go-ing, go-ing. The gardens are currently on the back burner. The animals, of course, still get their daily love and attention. Maybe not quite so much attention today!