Summer Soup and Special Bouquets

I am an optimist. I get up in the morning and put on sunscreen in hopes of it being a sunny day. We do not need any more rain just now. We need sunshine. Too much rain causes the vegetables to deteriorate! Another thing that makes veggies deteriorate is not having one’s refrigerator set to the proper temperature. It can be easy to accidentally move the dial on some units, so we always suggest people buy a thermometer and monitor the temperature of one’s refrigerator. Now to the garden . . .

The snow peas have been picked off clean and we trust they will provide a second bloom and harvest.

Pea pickin’ and eatin’–right in the garden!

I made a vegetable soup last week using patty pan squash, zucchini, peas, and carrots! (Yes, carrots are in the future!) This batch of soup has a wonderfully “fresh” flavor. Some do not think of soup in the summer, but we love soups year ‘round at our house! We are exceptionally busy (in case you had not gathered) and often need a quick meal . . .

The last Romaine salad of the season and summer soup!

The potatoes are growing. We should have lots of Russets for baking and plenty of our “special potato” that has a slightly golden flesh—and no, it is not the Yukon Gold potato. We have grown those in the past, but love this particular one EVEN MORE!!

Robert says the 2021 Harvest will be the best potatoes he has ever grown!

We will be getting some okra soon. You may have a favorite method to prepare your okra—many people like it fried or in a gumbo. I was not a fan of okra until I discovered the following way to cook it. All I do is steam the entire okra for about five minutes! Remove from the heat, let cool slightly, and sprinkle with some sea salt. Using the stem as a handle, bite into the okra and enjoy! They are not slimy when prepared in this manner. The “slime” makes an appearance once the vegetable is “cut into.”

We like okra small. I think large ones are for making Christmas tree ornaments!

If you interest in whole chickens, the following is from a neighbor and friend who has for sale fresh and frozen whole pastured Cornish Cross meat birds.  Most are around 5 lbs at $5.50/pound. She cleans them very meticulously and then vacuum seals them for a beautiful product if you like tender chicken. Available while supplies last at Cloud 9 Farm in Fairview. By appointment only, so call ahead. Contact: Janet Peterson, phone: 828-545-9611, or by email at: janetpeterson9@bellsouth.net

A good year for the gladiolas in our front yard! I keep a constant bouquet in my kitchen.

There are bouquets and then there is the “Farmer’s SPECIAL Bouquet!” Coming one day soon to a veggie box, along with okra, potatoes, patty pan and zephyr squash, green and yellow zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, and maybe cauliflower or kohlrabi, eggplant, and green beans, depending on the day. It’s summertime in the garden!

Nice and sweet this season–but they may not all be this straight!

Cucumbers & Eggplant & More

Last Wednesday we got 1 3/4 inches of rain on the farm. Robert had not irrigated for a couple of days in anticipation of rainfall so it all soaked in nicely. We much prefer rain from the Heavens over using our deep-well, drip irrigation system. Now I hear thunder again. Small amounts we like as long as the sunshine comes out afterwards!

I must relate a story about the cute, little patty pan squash. When presented with a variety of shapes spread out on the kitchen counter a five-year old asked, “What are those?!” His mother replied, “Patty Pan squash.” The child who is already and avid gardener stated, “No, they are cupcakes!” And his three-year old sibling promptly put one into his pocket and carried it around for the remainder of the day! Gotta love the parents of children who have been raised to think of veggies as desserts!

There baby beans and thousands of blossoms on the bean fence! One day we expect to be Blessed with green beans–no strings, just tender green beans.

Robert inspecting the bean blossoms.
The bean fence is covered up on both sides!

The eggplant are looking great as are the peppers. This is but one of the “waves” we have planted. We like to spread our plants out in different areas of the field to ensure growing success.
Here are the carrots and more eggplant.
The carrots are small, but growing!

CSA Members saw the first of the cucumbers in their boxes last week. This coming week will see the first of the Asian Eggplant. They are not plentiful yet, but the are getting started. There may be random escarole and endive. And green and yellow zucchini, zephyr squash and patty pans, and broccoli and kohlrabi?

Baby okra on the plant

Someone asked me about okra. Yes, there will be okra this year. We have not grown it for some years, but this is looking like a good year to start back! Our garden is a joyous place! I trust you enjoyed this brief tour.

Season Change Into Summer

This is the first time we have had romaine and lettuces this far into the season, but all things must end! There will still be some escarole and endive, however. Here are some ideas for how to use it when one no longer has romaine, lettuces, and chois to make a salad. The escarole and curly frisée endive are both bitter greens. I am told that the more bitter the green, the better it is for the liver; the stimulation of bile flow is important to break down fats.

Like the lady in the video below, I too grew up in the Mid-west, but our vegetables DID NOT come from a can! On the other hand, I never had escarole until we started growing it for our CSA. Same thing goes for the endive! Seed catalogues are enticing with their offerings and Robert loves to try and grow new items.

Escarole is in the chicory family.

From the MasterClass online I found these five ways to serve frisée (curly endive). Frisée’s bitterness allows it to complement and balance richer flavors.

Add frisée to a sandwich with whole-grain mustard for a slightly bitter note. Or, make a hot salad by pairing frisée with bacon, eggs, and diced onions topped with a mustard vinaigrette. Or, for a cold salad serve frisée with slices of peaches or diced orange slices and top with walnuts and blue cheese dressing! Or, for a side dish, toss frisée with a vinaigrette made from roasted fowl or pork drippings and rice wine vinegar. Or, saute frisée in olive oil with finely chopped garlic cloves. Once cooked, it can be stored in the refrigerator and used as a garnish or snack if you are so inclined!

Curly Endive or Frisée

I got an email this week which asked “I’m curious, what exactly are the oddly shaped round things, with ridgy edges?” Obviously, I have dropped the ball when it comes to writing Blogs! In the boxes this last week and next week, and hopefully for the foreseeable future, are patty pan squash, some zephyr squash, and zucchini in green & deep yellow.

The patty pan squash have cool names like lemon, sun burst, star ship, Y-star, and other unidentified varieties!

This is our first year for growing the zephyr summer squash. The zephyr looks somewhat similar to a yellow crookneck squash but actually a cross between the Delicata and yellow Acorn winter squashes. They are they longish squash which are greenish on the bottom and yellow on the top.

The hurricane seems to be going to miss WNC for the most part which is a very good thing! We can handle up to 3/4 of an inch of rain at one time, but more than that or that amount for days on end is most destructive to the garden!

Friday’s Addition . . .

In the Friday boxes we have red and green romaine and red butter head lettuce, endive, escarole, green and purple kohlrabi, no-so-pretty broccoli and pretty cauliflower. Added this week are snow peas! (I erroneously referred to them as sugar snap peas earlier in the week.) We call these “the Farmer’s Candy.”

Also, starting Friday are a variety of patty pan squash, the oblong green and yellow two-toned squash, and green and yellow zucchini. Here is a photo of today’s harvest. I shall divide them among everyone getting CSA Boxes. Obviously, you will not get much this week. I suggest you dice them up for salad toppers. Or, the chef could saute and eat them before the rest of the family comes home! You can cook all of these in one dish if you like as their flavors mingle well.

These little patty pan squash are just too cute for words!

The plants look great! If the weather holds up, we should be able to have you crying UNCLE when it comes to squashes and zucchini. On the other hand, there can always be another year like last season . . . we harvested them for two weeks before it started raining and all of the plants died! Pray we do not have a repeat of this in 2021.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July Holiday and hold your puppies close. I have yet to meet a dog that enjoyed the booms and bangs of fireworks. Our son’s dog was visiting last weekend and when early fireworks were set off in the neighborhood, I had to cuddle him like an infant–never mind the fact he weighs about 80 pounds!

BUSY WEEDING

We strive for a thriving partnership with Nature! So far this season, Mother Nature has been pretty good to us. Those potato plants I posted a picture of last time are even taller and forming a delicious root crop we will enjoy one day. The patty pans and zucchini and cucumbers are looking strong–but nothing to harvest yet. Robert has been mounding and tying up the tomato plants. He had to relocate two, fat male rabbits who were eating to the ground our tomato plants. Never before in our 28 years of farming on this property has this happened. Very strange! And weeding . . . Most of the last two weeks has been spent WEEDING in the garden! Too bad the weeds will just come back in another month . . . but for now our plants have a fighting chance! Did you ever attempt to weed five plus acres by hand?!

Enjoy your salads–like everything else, they will not be seasonal forever!

This week we have red and green romaine and red, butter head lettuce, endive, escarole, green and purple kohlrabi, no-so-pretty broccoli and pretty cauliflower. Added this week are sugar snap peas! We call these “the Farmer’s Candy.”

Eat the entire pod! Or slice and put into your salads to make them go farther.

I found this recipe online. Next time I will make a larger dish because it was even better the next day!

This casserole was even better the second day!

GRADUAL SEASON CHANGE

Attention CSA Members:  It is time to prepare for a gradual Season Change of veggies! Some of you will be sad to hear this; others of you will be thrilled. Whichever camp you fall into, we thank you for your support. We are not a retail grocery store with semi-trucks bringing in our supply of produce. Our vegetables are grown in the Fairview soil with our labor and the Grace of the Almighty!

As you know, we do NOT require our CSA Members to pay for the entire season in advance, but rather accept payment box by box. There are two reasons we have decided upon this manner of payment. First, we would not be able to sleep at night if we had all of your money and then Mother Nature gave us a year where we were unable to supply the promised veggies. In reality, this has never happened, but this is still the first reason. Sometimes all of the crops we plant do not grow as we planned, but we have always had vegetables to fill our CSA Boxes!

The second reason we are willing to accept payment in this manner is that over the last two decades, we have been told too many times that THIS is the only way some families are able to join a CSA. Some people get paid by the week and coming up with six months of grocery money all at once simply is not a viable option. So thank you to everyone who is a member of Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA. You are helping to support our small, family farm and you are helping to provide fresh, local seasonal veggies to others in the community! When we have excess, we donate to area shelters and food banks. And interestingly enough, Bell South, Duke Progress Energy, Verizon Wireless and the rest of the companies we must pay each month simply will not take vegetables for payment!

Robert standing the the best potatoes EVER!

After a look in the garden, it appears the tatsoi, Joi Choi, Ching Chang, and Black Summer chois are done for the season. The heat and insects have taken over those early crops. It is possible we will have some white, juicy Joi Choi stalks we can put into the boxes. (I will remove the leaves.) I use them just like celery. They can add crunch to your romaine and lettuce salads and are wonderful for dipping or filling with cream cheese, humus, or peanut butter! Children love “ants on a log.”

A juicy, crunchy joi choi stalk . . . add a few raisins and you have “ants on a log!”

Going forward you can expect to see broccoli heads. We grow several varieties—some have traditional crowns, some have long stalks with little heads on the end, some are in between. And later there will be “florets.”  They all taste like fresh broccoli (grown on a local farm)! At this time we are getting the first smattering of cauliflower heads. They will become more plentiful.  The collards and kale are coming into a second wave. We have red and green romaine and red, butter head lettuce. We trust you are figuring out how to enjoy the green and purple kohlrabi, because the “fleet has landed!” We still have endive and escarole. Spring onions round out the mix for now. Seasonal eating from a local farm!

Sadly, the rain and heat were hard on the peonies in my front yard this year, but the wildflowers are doing exceptional well. We enjoy our bits of beauty where we can!

SEASONAL EATING

How are you doing with seasonal eating? Thus far the gardens have produced Joi Choi, Ching Chang, Black Summer, tatsoi, red and green kale, escarole, endive, romaine, red lettuce, onions, and green and purple kohlrabi. Seasonal vegetables! We trust we have thrilled you with at least one unfamiliar vegetable thus far! Some of these veggies are leaving the mix soon, but others will be arriving. Broccoli and cauliflower will be next to appear. I am guessing our CSA Members will have no trouble identifying broccoli and cauliflower! The size of these heads will depend upon the weather and the variety. We do plant multiple varieties so if one fails to meet our expectations, perhaps another will perform better!

Purple kohlrabi growing in the garden.

I have told some member about kohlrabi growing in the garden. The veggie you receive in your veggie box actually sits on top of the soil in the garden. With a bit of imagination, one might think they have the appearance of little, alien space ships that just landed in a row!

Sliced raw kohlrabi, with dried cranberries and grapes in a salad.

I like kohlrabi raw. Robert prefers his slightly sauteed in coconut oil. There is a crunchy kohlrabi salad recipe on the website as well as some tips for storing and preparing this unique vegetable.

The tatsoi is all gone, but look for a combination of the above veggies in your next CSA Box/Bag. We are nearly half way through the month of June, but expect to have green salad makings until the end of this month. There is a Harvest Calendar on the website if you are interested in approximately what will appear when.

And farm shares are available for the remainder of the season.

A BIRD’S EYE VIEW

We have been busy! All of the tomato plants have been transplanted to the garden. A fat, male rabbit found them last week and ate about fifteen of them to the nub one day. Robert relocated Peter Rabbit via “Have-A-Heart” trap to another property because he was doing some SERIOUS damage! From whatever reason, Peter did not care to sample the bell peppers and eggplant starts which were located nearby. He simply ate his way down a row of tomatoes! And just like in the children’s fairy tale, Peter was NOT HAPPY about being caught in a trap. He created more of a ruckus than a groundhog four times his weight. FYI we used an apple for bait!

The greenhouse is empty and we have our driveway back again! The summer and winter squash have been planted. The okra seeds are up and the potatoes are looking beautiful. The last TWO years have been very bad for potato production, so we are particularly excited to see the potatoes looking as good as they do this season.

Potatoes! So far, so good!

My son took some drone footage last week to give you a bird’s eye view of our Fairview family farming enterprise!

Half of our CSA Members have received their second “box” of veggies. The content has changed. In addition to the Asian greens, we have added Romaine lettuce, onions, escarole, and last Friday, heads of red/purple lettuce! This coming week will also see kohlrabi in the box. As some veggies fade away, others will be added. This is seasonal eating!

Our Kohlrabi come in one purple and two green varieties.

Kohlrabi is one of those veggies many people are not familiar with yet; however, we trust you will explore its varied uses and become a fan. Check out the website for our suggestions on peeling this usual vegetable and how to enjoy it. Just scroll down the page until you see the photo of this unique veggie.

Spring and Early Summer Garden

We have CSA Farm Shares available and are happy to add members at this time.

The First Box for the Second Week!

In the box today you have two Joi Choi, two Ching Chang, two Black Summer, at least two Tatsoi, a romaine, a bag of red kale and green kale, a bag of baby collards, and endive! We like to harvest our collards small as you can see in this photo. These are tender, baby collards which you can eat raw in a salad or braise as you desire. Regardless, now is the time you might want to implement your chiffonade style of cutting.

Seasonal, gourmet baby collards

I try to sort out the really damaged items. By damaged, I mean anything with excessive bug bites! But we are organic farmers, so you should expect to see some insect damage. We always say, “If the insects will not eat, we probably should not eat it either!”

Strawberries from my “front lawn”

We do not have any grass on our “lawn.” We have perennial flowers and annual flowers and butterfly bushes and strawberry plants every where! The strawberries started out in a small six-foot circle, but soon took over the front. They are the ever-bearing berry variety. Our problem has been the wildlife. You might recall me saying that Robert was “ubering” the squirrels to another property far enough from here that they will not make their way back. His efforts this spring seem to have paid off because we are getting some berries in an amount to be impressive for the first time!

Raspberries and herbed fetta cheese!

We got a much needed, lovely rain this afternoon which will give the drip irrigation wells a break for at least one day. We have been in “drought” conditions. We are not looking forward to high 80 degree temps this week. The spring crops prefer it to be a bit cooler . . . but what can one do? Prepare to SALAD ON! Your veggie boxes next week will be very much like the one today. And remember to go back and read previous Blog entries, if you have not done so.

Second Week of First CSA Boxes

We are entering the second week of first CSA Boxes. By now every CSA Member should have received their RSVP Email. We attempt to be in different areas of the county on different days of the week in order to make veggie box pickup convenient for our members. We cannot be all things to all people–there are just the two of us; but we do try!

Strawberries, artichoke hearts and slivered almonds!

During the first four to six weeks of harvest (that’s 2 – 3 veggie boxes) we will be doing a “salad parade.” I will refer anyone reading this Blog back to the previous Blog for details. It is always a good idea to read back a couple of Blogs if you are not subscribed and receiving them on a regular basis. You can subscribe (and unsubscribe) on the Blog page!

There will always be additions and changes in the boxes from week to week. For example, this second week will see the addition of the Asian green Tatsoi. I will appear to be a spinach bouquet and may be treated as spinach. It can be eaten raw in salads. However, my favorite way is to put it into a quiche with feta cheese! I am a “this and that” type of cook who does not follow instructions well, but I did my best to re-create my ever changing recipe. My experience is that when one begins with fresh veggies, it is difficult to go wrong!

Tatsoi Fetta Pie/Quiche with mushrooms and side of sauteed tatsoi greens.

There may be other additions this week or next week . . . the baby collards are about ready and the spring onions! Most of the recipes for the Asian greens we grow will be on our website under either “C” for “Choi” or “G” for “Greens” or “T” for “Tatsoi.” I guess I am a “this and that” type of recipe organizer, too!