Current Newsletters

Posted 10/9/2015 12:33pm by Don Kretschmann.

Oct. 6, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

After the storm clouds cleared out Sunday the sun warmed things up perfectly for a pleasant walk-around-the-farm. It’s amazing how quickly the crop-scene is changing even as we see little signs of and anticipate the big change of fall leaf color in the coming weeks. Where just two weeks ago we had almost depressingly dusty conditions. We seeded late roots and greens and Sunday we saw all those little sprouts thriving on all the moisture and loving the cooler temps. We’re already seeing the first baby salad greens and are on the cusp of lots more. Radishes and turnips are on a fast track for later in the fall.   

Late last week, I finally got a minute to inspect the bees—a job which has been in the back of mind for the last month. In midsummer, I’d put a “super” on top of the fast growing colony in our trellised orchard. You’ll remember I mentioned capturing this wild swarm in June. They looked to be very industrious and when I looked in August, they had filled the two hive bodies nearly full. So they needed room to grow and stock away that nectar they are so famous for gathering. I’d ordered in a bee escape, which is a device to vacate the worker bees from honey comb so it can be harvested. The super was about full of honey and the rest of the hive seemed to have an adequate supply for the bees to survive the winter, so I put on the escape, waited a few days before taking off the super, and harvested the honey last evening.   

The Sunday tour also revealed a really nice crop of carrots in the offing! In addition to nice orange carrots of three varieties (all three doing very well) Maria has prevailed upon us to try some heirloom purple carrots. This was the natural color of the carrot before they were bred to be orange.   

Over the last two weeks tomatoes have become increasingly infected with late blight. This is somewhat normal for this time of the season and signals the season is about to end (if frost doesn’t end it first). We picked late last week most of the fields with that in mind. Thus there are many fully green tomatoes. Our call is that these wouldn’t make it to maturity anyway and are best harvested green. They are good battered and fried, or in relishes and pickles (see recipe below).   

Enjoying the great fall weather, we are sincerely,                                            

Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

FYI: Signup for the extended winter season is now beginning. If interested, send us a note with subject line: Winter (and indicate size). Boxes are available either every two weeks or once a month (S or L…)from December until March. It surprises many (including us sometimes!) the variety of local produce which one can have even after freezing temperatures predominate—often more than is available in the early summer. As we mentioned previously, we’re excited to have some of our own canned tomato products for off-season use. See the website for more info. Also, we’re always in need of good dropoff sites for winter pickup. Let us know if you’d like to offer, or know of a business which would fit.  

If you aren’t in the mood to fool with pie dough, try using shortbread for a crust. Press it with a rubber spatula or your oiled fingers into shape in the pan.

Apples on Shortcake: Cut up apples as you would for apple pie, adding honey or sugar and raisins if desired, plus a little cider if apples aren't too juicy. Shortbread: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar. Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly absorbed. Then mix in 5/8 c. milk and one beaten egg. Spread this shortcake dough into the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Spread layer of apples on top and bake @ 350 deg. about 45 min. or until apples are cooked. For a special treat, try using butter for half the oil. If using a smaller pan, adjust the amounts. Another variation is to make it more like a breakfast sweetroll by adding ¼ c. sugar to the dry ingredients and sprinkling a coarse cane sugar on the top and dotting with butter. This will make a sugary crunch to top the treat.

Butternut and Fall Greens over Pasta: Peel and cut up butternut into bite sized pieces. Toss with oil, put on cookie sheet and roast until nearly tender, then broil carefully to just barely toast the top. Meanwhile chop and steam or boil greens of your choice. Tuscan kale or turnip greens are great. Chop greens, combine with butternut and 1# of your favorite pasta. Salt & Pepper, shredded cheese, and perhaps a little roasted garlic fill out the taste pallette. Butternut “Fries”- Peel butternut with a potato peeler, then cut and remove seeds in seed cavity. Slice into slices about 3/8” square and about 2-3” long. Toss with oil and spread on oiled cookie sheet one layer deep. Bake @ 350 deg. About half an hour or until tender and slightly browned. Salt to taste. These are sweet and remarkably like sweet potato fries and yummy. Green Tomato Chutney: Boil ¼ c. cider vinegar, 2 tbs honey or maple syrup (or 3 tbs sugar), 1 lg. clove minced garlic, 1 tbs finely grated ginger, ½ tsp ground cumin, 1/8 tsp. dried hot pepper flakes (if desired) until reduced in half. Stir in 2 finely chopped green tomatoes and salt to taste. Cool and add 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro.  

Special Orders: Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Green tomatoes: 10# box $10. We generally have lots of different herbs on hand—rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, dill. If you have need of some for a special recipe, just let us know. Butternut Squash—Bushel $40. Red Jalapenos—3# $10 Last call for those who want to stash away some pickled--Hot Hungarian Wax Peppers--$25/half bushel.

Posted 10/2/2015 3:44pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 29, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

The on-again-off again droughty summer lingered on until…we reconfigured our thinking, started systematic irrigations, then Sunday night--rain…forecasts changed suddenly from 30 to 40 to 50 to…last I looked, 100% chance of rain, with, and from “less than a tenth” to ¾ - 1” of rain. Seems we’re set for the season because the water should persist as daylight, temperature, and number of crops all diminish. But then that what I thought last Sunday, and the Sunday before, and the one before that.   

We’ve got one more row of Liberty apples to pick when the rain stops. The apple cooler is to the ceiling. So expect lots of pomes for the next few weeks, at least. They make great baked goods. It’s been so easy to wow visitors with apple crisps, cakes, and pies. Try some sauce in a crockpot. Serve it warm…with cinnamon/or not. Boil some diced apples in a little cider, stir in some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg…serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.   

October knocks! The last big pushes will be the late fall greens, the lettuces, mesclun, arugula, kale, chard; autumn coles--cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli; not to be outdone by the roots—radishes, turnips, carrots, and beets (which we’ve begun). There’s one more planting of green beans for which we were praying for rain—about two weeks out.   

The cover crops are one by one taking over production fields. Former green bean fields are now winter rye, squash and potato fields are winter peas and oats, vetch and rye populate a future zucchini field. Sorry if you’re tired of relentless cilantro, but it’s just the best planting in memory and tomatoes won’t be here long.     

Enjoying the shift to inside-the-barn tasks and the patter of gentile rainfall, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

FYI: Signup for the extended winter season is now beginning. If interested, send us a note with subject line: Winter (and indicate size). Boxes are available either every two weeks or once a month (S or L…)from December until March. It surprises many (including us sometimes!) the variety of local produce which one can have even after freezing temperatures predominate—often more than is available in the early summer. As we mentioned previously, we’re excited to have some of our own canned tomato products for off-season use. See the website for more info. Also, we’re always in need of good dropoff sites for winter pickup. Let us know if you’d like to offer, or know of a business which would fit.  

Apple Slice Cake: Sift 1 c. pastry flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, 2 tbs sugar. Mix in 4 tbs vegetable oil until well mixed. Beat 2 egg yolks adding ½ c. milk and stir well into dry mixture. Pour into oiled shallow pan. Cover with thin slices of 4 pared apples. Sprinkle with 4 tbs sugar, ½ tsp. cinnamon, 1 tbs grated lemon rind, and dot with butter. Bake @ 400 deg. 35 min. Tip for apple crisp... Whatever recipe you use for apple crisp can be made in a crock pot.  Grease the inside of the crock pot, fill with apple mixture, top with crumb topping, cook on high for about 2 hours, just leave a wooden spoon in the crock pot to keep the lid cracked during cooking to achieve the "crisp" top. 

Apple crisp: Slice or coarsely dice 2# apples (we never peel our apples), mix well with 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and juice from small lemon. Place in buttered 9 x 13 pan. Mix in bowl, 1/2 c. wholewheat flour, 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. rolled oats, optional 1/2 c. nuts and mix well. Cut 1/2 c. butter (one stick) into chunks and scatter over mixture then using your hands or pastry cutter squeeze and mix until everything is mixed well and crumbly. Drop topping onto apples, dot with another 2 tbs. butter, and bake @ 375 deg. 35 min. String Bean Salad: Boil or steam 1 lb. string beans. Combine 1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. vinegar, 1 clove mince garlic, salt an pepper. Pour over bean. Add 2 sliced tomatoes and 1 sliced onion. Beet Greens: Chop greens in bite-sized pieces, keep stems separate. Saute stems and a few cloves minced garlic in olive oil for a minute. Add chopped greens and saute another minute. Turn heat to low, add a few tbs. water, cover tightly, and simmer a few minutes. Add lemon juice and soy sauce or salt to taste.

"Red Hot" Cider: Place 1/2 c. "red hot" cinnamon candies in basket of an electric coffee maker. Pour 1 qt. cider into coffee maker's water reservoir, and brew over cinnamon candies.

German Hot Potato Salad: Cook potatoes until tender, but firm. Cool and chop into bite sized pieces--cubes or slices. Fry and crumble up 4 slices of bacon. To the bacon fat add 2 tbs sugar, 1/3 c. water, 1/4 c. vinegar, and 1 tbs. flour. Cook until thickened, then add 2 tbs. chopped fresh dill and 1/2 c. minced onions and toss with potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Green

Tomato Chutney: Boil ¼ c. cider vinegar, 2 tbs honey or maple syrup (or 3 tbs sugar), 1 lg. clove minced garlic, 1 tbs finely grated ginger, ½ tsp ground cumin, 1/8 tsp. dried hot pepper flakes (if desired) until reduced in half. Stir in 2 finely chopped green tomatoes and salt to taste. Cool and add 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro.

Posted 10/2/2015 3:35pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 22, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

We’ve been picking apples like there’s no tomorrow (maybe for this fruit, that’s true). One more Jonafree tree remains to pick (actually, somebody just missed it) and about half the Liberties. Since we’ve got more of these planted than any other variety, our new apple cooler is becoming stuffed to the ceiling. We just replaced our tiny old unit (panels salvaged from CMU labs when they were tossing them) with one nearly three times the size. It wasn’t a minute too soon. The guy who said, “You can never have too much cooler space,” was a genius.   

It was a very pleasant surprise to come home from a high school reunion Saturday night to .7” of rain in the gauge. That was just what we needed. The fall broccoli planting is loving it! Tiny heads are starting to form. The vista of blue green cole crop fields contrasted with bright clouds, blue sky, and the pale green winter rye cover crop filling in the old onion field is autumn eye candy.   

Red Pepper Story: Nearly everyone prefers peppers when they are red and so sweet. So why would anyone ever pick them earlier when they’re still green? Because you lose about 2/3 of them before they turn red! When it’s wet—like it was in June and early July, they rot. When it’s dry, sunny, and hot, they can get sunburned on one side or develop a small black spot. Sometimes they just dry out and get soft (actually these are the very sweetest of all!). If they sit on the ground, the tip can compost. The bottom line is that many red peppers we pick have defects. But this doesn’t mean most of those peppers aren’t edible. Because red peppers are so prized, we tend to be lenient with defects and look over each one with an eye not toward whether there’s a spot or such, but what one would get out of it in the kitchen. Often we’ll give a good red pepper and then put in one or two imperfects. (when we had really just planned on one red pepper total). Admittedly, sometimes we err, but we do our best. And if it’s any consolation, we have bushels of them which we can’t bear to toss, pare them up, and use them for breakfast fritattas at our church. All that said, we hope you understand and can thus allow our local production to be utilized and not become part of that 40% of food which is routinely wasted in the rest of the food industry.   

Enjoying mornings with hot coffee and jackets, days filling sacksful of juicy apples, crisp evening sunsets, we are sincerely,                                           

Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

FYI Friday: We were running out of room in our apple cooler and decided to make cider from some of the apples. This was not part of the plan for this week but rather for next week. So if next week’s box looks a little thin, understand that this week’s was heavy. Also, light shares aren’t getting cider this week because they got half a gallon last time. Lights should have gotten less than other sizes, but it’s proportionately much more expensive to do smaller bottles. So we’re skipping this time.

Veggie ID: The deep green squash is a kabocha. The orange flesh is rich and sweet like a yam. Carrot Soup with Dill Pesto: Saute 4 large carrots, 1 onion and and 1 tsp dill seeds in 2 tbs butter until tender, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 35 minutes. Transfer soup to blender in batches and puree. Thin with more broth if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine 1 c. fresh dill and 2 tbs pine nuts or sunflower seeds in processor and chop finely using on/off turns. Then slowly add 2 tbs olive oil and process until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.. Ladle into bowls. Swirl pesto into soupbowls. If you aren’t in the mood to fool with pie dough, try using shortbread for a crust. Press it with a rubber spatula or your oiled fingers into shape in the pan.

Apples on Shortcake: Cut up apples as you would for apple pie, adding honey or sugar and raisins if desired, plus a little cider if apples aren't too juicy. Shortbread: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar. Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly absorbed. Then mix in 5/8 c. milk and one beaten egg. Spread this shortcake dough into the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Spread layer of apples on top and bake @ 350 deg. about 45 min. or until apples are cooked. For a special treat, try using butter for half the oil. If using a smaller pan, adjust the amounts. We’ve had such a great run of outstanding cilantro, we’ve given it again this week with likely the last big load of tomatoes. Mix the colors, add a pepper and onion, pile it on chips…

Pico de Gallo or Fresh Salsa: 4 tomatoes, 2 peppers, 1 bunch cilantro, about 1 green onion (or half a medium sized dry onion or a small bunch of chives)--chop all these very finely. Add salt, 4T lemon or lime juice, dash of garlic powder and if you like, about 1 tsp. of finely chopped hot pepper—go easy because they are hotter fresh. Mix and enjoy with chips or other Mexican fare.

Spiced Kabocha: Half remove seeds and peel 1 med. Kabocha squash. Cut into chunks. Clean out your coffee grinder and process 1 tsp. cumin seeds, ¼ tsp. paprika, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. brown sugar. Toss squash with 1 tbs. oil then toss with spice mix. Bake on oiled cookie sheet until squash is tender.

Posted 10/2/2015 3:18pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 15, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

What a difference a week has made! Sunday, a week ago, we went on our annual trek to the Canfield Fair and could barely tolerate the sun and heat sitting in the grandstand watching 4-H kids barrel race on their horses. The arena was so dry they didn’t even attempt to wet it down to cut the dust. Thursday it rained .6”. Last Sunday was cool enough that warmer socks were in order; we dumped an inch and a quarter of rain out of the gauge, then half an inch more rain later in the day. The fall broccoli planting loves it! We’d been nursing it through the heat with drip irrigation, but a good rain is really what was needed. Thursday’s skyfall was sufficient to provide a nice moist seedbed for our late seedings of turnips, radishes, and mesclun. Late carrots and beets look great. We’re off to the races… You’ve seen and been the recipient of a bonanza of tomatoes. But those are only half the story. There have been so many that after offering them to all who wanted them to preserve, we took two loads of them to a cannery in Punxsutawney to have sauce, salsa, and juice made. Winter boxes will be interesting…   

The next weeks are the heart of apple season. We make lots of cider with the seconds at Sally’s Cider Press north of Zelienople. It’s one of the last remaining custom presses around. This is nothing but our apples ground up, squeezed, then the juice is then UV pasteurized, and we bottle it up. This week there’s a mix of apples in the bags. We’ve been picking lots of the Jonafrees because the drought has cause them to start dropping off. There’s also the last of the Primas and Priscillas which are extremely firm and sweet. Ever so slowly the tomatoes are receding…   

Enjoying more sleep each day, less time irrigating, and crisp evenings, we are sincerely,                                           Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

FYI: End of the green bean story—We lost the gamble. The four remaining rows of unpicked beans developed big seeds. The younger beans shriveled and didn’t really develop at all. The field just wasn’t worth picking. Good thing we picked most of them a week ago. We’ve got a new planting coming on in about two weeks.   Butternut Squash and Apples: Cut squash in half lengthwise and clear cavity of seeds. Peel. Chop squash flesh into cubes. Steam or microwave until almost tender. Mix squash and apple chunks with 1 tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ c. brown sugar or cinnamon, pinch of salt and 2 tbs butter. Bake in cassarole dish until squash and apples are tender. Apple pie--Quarter, remove the core and cut up about 2# apples into chunks the size of a sugar cube. (You needn't peel them.) Option: a handful of raisins. Mix with about 1/3 c. sugar or honey, 2 tbs flour, cinnamon to taste, and 1/3 c. apple cider. Make dough and line piepan with crust. Fill with apples, pressing them to get in as many as possible. Cover with the topcrust and pinch the top and bottom together with your fingers. Cut off excess with knife. Poke a few holes in the top to let the stream out. Bake @ 375 deg until inserting a sharp knife reveals the apples are cooked. Pie crust-sift 2c. flour(any kind)+ 1/2t. baking powder+ 1t.salt. Blend 1/3c. boiling water+2/3c. oil. Pour hot oil/water over dry ingredients and mix. Roll out for crust immediately. Between sheets of 6mil plastic makes it easy and clean. Just peel back the plastic after rolling.   Roasted Pepper & Tomato Pasta with Shrimp: Make one cookie sheet of roasted tomatoes (about 5) and roasted peppers (about 2). Boil and peel 1/2# shrimp. Dice and saute about 5 cloves of garlic and 1/2 c onions sliced in rings. Add the shrimp to the garlic & onions, then add about 12 oz bowtie pasta cooked & drained, the peppers and tomatoes.

Posted 10/2/2015 3:08pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 8, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Hope you enjoy the tender green beans. We’ve been watching them grow so nicely for the last month, only to be picking them yesterday under a little duress. Without moisture, there are definitely less than usual. Normally we pick a bean field over a two week period. While picking, we noticed that plants were keeling over and seeds were rapidly developing because of drought. We decided to pick nearly 2/3 and not risk so many getting “beany” and tough. The remaining 1/3 was more of an acceptable gamble. The expected rain could nicely fill out the many tiny beans, or it could cause the weak plants to fall over. Monday we had just adjusted the picker so it scooped up many more of the downer plants when things got even more complicated. After picking four rows, Angel noticed we had a hissing tire on the picker. By the time we turned the machine around it was completely flat, off the rim, and in need of a new tire. Normally we’d just take it off and over to Skander’s for a new one. But Monday was Labor Day. With the push to harvest before losing beans, we just had to give a shot at fixing the biggest farm tire I can ever remember repairing. Luckily there was a tube, which made the basic repair not much harder than a bicycle tire. Getting it off and back on the rim was a struggle-with only crow bars. Then there was creatively repairing a badly dryrotted sidewall with a piece of bicycle tire held in place on the inside with a plug for a tubeless flat tire. Hey, it held OK and we picked the beans. Another day of farming…    It looks like there’s an intense area of rain making a beeline straight for us and it couldn’t be more welcome. The farm has gotten downright droughty over the last several weeks. We been waiting for a little moisture in the soil before planting many of the last crops. Turnips, radishes, and all the fall mesclun greens will pop right out of a moist seedbed in a day or two—faster than the weeds which will never catch them. We could use another batch of lettuce in the ground as well.   

Enjoying the waning summer, awaiting a good rain, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

Tip: If ripe tomatoes are accumulating, you can easily just put them in a plastic bag and freeze them for later use in sauce or soups. No processing required at all. Veggie IDs: Apples are Primas this week. We’ll be on to the main season Jonafrees and Liberties in a week or two. Apple topped “Bread Puddings”: Heat ½ c. sugar in saucepan until it melts, add ¼ c. butter and 4 large diced apples and simmer until apples are cooked, then add ½ c raisins and ½ c. cider. Simmer 5 min. add dash vanilla set aside and cool. (this next part is kind of like a rich French toast) Beat together 2 eggs, ½ c. milk (or for a treat--cream), 3 tsp. sugar, ¼ tsp vanilla, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cardoman. Cut your favorite hearty bread into small squares—about 4/slice. (This can also be stale leftover bread as well) Soak bread pieces in pudding mix about half a minute or until it’s well saturated. Fry these in 2 tbs butter. Top each bread piece with apple mixture. Accumulating a number of apples in the fridg? Apple crisp: Slice or coarsely dice 2# apples (we never peel our apples), mix well with ¼ c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and juice from small lemon. Place in buttered 9 x 13 pan. Mix in bowl, 1/2 c. wholewheat flour, 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. rolled oats, optional 1/2 c. nuts and mix well. Cut 1/2 c. butter (one stick) into chunks and scatter over mixture then using your hands or pastry cutter squeeze and mix until everything is mixed well and crumbly. Drop topping onto apples and bake @ 375 deg. 35 min. Broiled Tomatoes: Arrange 1 tomato per person, sliced in half or 3/4" thick, on oiled cookie sheet or low rack. Brush with olive oil or melted butter. Broil until the tops are browned but not burned, and the tomatoes are heated all the way through. Many variations! Herbs and Spices: Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, coriander, parlsey, dill, chives, cumin, basil, tarragon,chile or curry powder on each tomato before broiling. Breadings: Sprinkle bread crumbs or wheat germ on top before broiling. (or breading and cheese) Cheeses: Sprinkle any cheese you have on hand on top before broiling. Sour cream topping: Broil tomatoes until heated. Combine 2 tsp. sour cream and 2 tsp. mustard and spread on to of tomatoes and broil until topping is bubbly. Garbanzo Bean Salad. Combine 1 1/2c. cooked garbanzo beans, 1 c. chopped tomato, 1/2 c. black olives, 1 c. slivered onions, and 1/2 c. Italian dressing. You can add chopped cilantro or parsley also. The garbanzos (chick peas) are easy to make in a crock pot as they take a long time to cook. The rest is quick and easy. Tomato Bruschetta: Dice up tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Mix with shredded basil or oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Toast your favorite bread or ideally, French baguette, rub with garlic and top with mix

Posted 10/2/2015 3:00pm by Don Kretschmann.

Sept. 1, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Big full moon Saturday peeking out behind the clouds seemed so odd somehow with the sweltering humidity. September’s arrival well in advance of Labor day with a week in the high 80’s also seems out of bounds.  But every time we round the end of the orchard and look at the Jonafrees just loaded with red apples, we know we’re on the cusp of the fall season.  After finishing picking the Primas, we’re very glad to have just completed a new and much larger apple cooler—quite a crop.  And we’re now picking the Priscillas—best crop of those ever—to be followed shortly by our most plentiful apple, Liberty.  A separate cooler for apples is necessary because they give off ethylene which causes many vegetables to deteriorate rapidly.     Please bear with us as we overload your box at this time of the season.  It’s very difficult to choose what to leave out.  Some things just won’t store long; others we’ve been holding back on because more perishable items have taken precedance.  We hate to wait so we’re just loading you up so you can enjoy what and when you will.    We’ve included a little salsa pak with cilantro, a jalapeno or two...  Make a green salsa (below), or combine with tomatoes for a red salsa.    There’s lots of broccoli planted for the fall, just waiting for cool weather and moisture.  Coming Soon:  Green beans, winter squashes, roma tomatoes.   

Enjoying the waning summer, awaiting a good rain, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

P.S. Tuesday standard and plus sizes—we had some red romaine left over last week and added that to your box just to get it out the door.

Veggie IDs/tips:  The little bag of greens with small thick leaves on succulent stems is purslane.  Purslane has the highest content of Omega-3 fatty acids of any plant. It’s essential to metabolism, builds the immune system, and acts as a deterrent to heart disease.  It’s eaten all over the world.  Our Mexican helpers call it verdolaga and laugh that only the poor eat it in Mexico. Tips: Potatoes and beets will hold well for many weeks unrefrigerated in a cool place with good humidity like a basement. Carrots hold for months under refrigeration.   Tomatoes should never be refrigerated--55 deg. is ideal for them.    Purslane Potato Salad:  Boil 5 c. chopped potatoes until just barely tender.  Drain and cool.  Chop 2 c. purslane leaving out the tougher lower parts of stems.  Slice 1 c. sweet onions thinly.  Mix 1 c. mayonnaise, 1 tsp. celery seed and ½ tsp. salt with all ingredients until well mixed   Purslane Fritters:  Mix 1c. minced purslane sprigs, 1c. fine fresh bread crumbs, 2 tbs. currants, 1tbs. ground ginger, 1/2 tbs. black pepper, 1/2 t. salt.  Beat 3 eggs well and add dry ingredients.  Mold into about 15 fritters and fry until golden brown.   Salsa Verde Raul:  Boil 1-2 hot peppers in water 5 min.  Add 5-6 tomatillos and continue to cook until tender.  Mash slightly.  Add 2 tbs finely chopped cilantro and 1-2 minced small onions, 1 clove minced garlic and salt.  (you can also add a few tbs sour cream and mashed avocado to the dip.)   Turkish salad--Mix chopped purslane with slivered onions and peppers.  Dressing:1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses, 1/4 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice.  Top with tomato cubes.   Rice Noodles with Diablo Sauce and Greens:  Saute 3 c.cloves minced garlic, 3 tsp. minced ginger, ½ minced jalepeno, and ½ c. chopped onions in 4 tbs. sesame oil.  Add 3 c. chopped tomatoes, stir until they begin to cook. Add 2 tbs. honey and 4 tbs. lemon juice.   Cover and allow to simmer 2-3 min.  Add 6 c. chopped chard and cook another 5 min. until tender.  Meanwhile in large pot of boiling water add 12 oz. soba noodles and a tiny bit of oil. Cook until al dente-5 min.-drain.  Serve greens and sauce over the noodles.

Posted 10/2/2015 2:46pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 25, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

We spent a weekend with my siblings moving my 94 year old mom. We arrived to find her with a recently broken arm. She’d climbed on top of a piece of furniture to take down drapes and was jumping over to a chair when she fell. Hmm. Someone needs to keep an eye on that youngster. She was my first gardening mentor. We children took buckets of kitchen trimmings out to the garden to spade them in so they could compost and add to the richness of the soil. I can still picture our back yard when dad lost his job and she had it plowed by a local farmer—fencepost to fencepost. Our playhouse was an oasis in the middle of one giant vegetable garden. Despite the rough times, we were well nourished.   

In addition to the waves of tomatoes, we’ve been picking apples with a vengeance. It’s the “on” year for Primas. These are comparable to a Summer Rambo—slightly tart, red, and crisp. In addition to snacks, they make great deserts.

Coming Soon: Salsa pak-tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeno, cider, winter squashes, roma tomatoes.    Enjoying the waning summer, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

If you haven’t noticed, this is tomato season! Enjoy cooking with fresh ripe tomatoes. There’s nothing simpler (nor more tasty). 

Tomato Brushetta (“Italian salsa”): Dice up tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Mix with shredded basil or oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Toast your favorite bread, focaccia, or French baguette, rub with garlic. Scoop, top, or mix. Make it really festive with different colors of tomatoes—red, yellow, pink, green. Now’s the season!

Rosemary Focaccia with Garlic and Onions: Saute 1 med. coarsely chopped onion and 2-4 cloves finely chopped garlic in 2 tbs olive oil until tender and golden. Set aside. Make recipe of your favorite bread proportioned to use 1 c. liquid. When preparing the liquid ingredients add the sauted onions and garlic and 1 tbs. finely minced rosemary. Add the flour, knead and raise the first time. Punch down and roll into a flat rectangular shape. Oil a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Lift focaccia onto sheet and press dough out to cover. Allow to rise again, and before baking (400 deg) press a number of indentations in the top with your fingers. Brush with 2 tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with another tbs finely minced rosemary and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake approx 20 min until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Serve hot! Note: Easy bread recipe is Don's basic 1-1-1 in the breadmaker. 1 c. water 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp salt in first. Then 1 c. white and 1 c. whole wheat bread flour with 1 tbs dry yeast in a cavity on top of the flour. Put it on the dough cycle. Turn out when done onto floured surface and knead in a little extra flour if too sticky. Tomato yums:

Panzanella: Toss cubed bread w/ olive oil, salt, and parsley. Toast in oven on cookie sheet until browned. Remove and cool. Chop tomatoes, fresh basil, sweet onion, and mix with croutons. Dress w/ vinegrette of extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar of your choice.

BLT—yes! With a REAL tomato.

Apple Cake: Combine 2# tart, cut up apples with 1 1/2 c. sugar and set aside 15 min. Meanwhile sift 2 1/2 c. flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 Tbs. baking powder, 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each ginger, nutmeg and mace. Mix 2 eggs, 1/4 c. oil, 1/2 c. buttermilk, 2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/2 c. raisins or currents. (option-1/2 c chopped walnuts) Add apples to the dry ingredients, then stir in the liquid mixture. Pour into oiled 9x13 baking pan. Bake @ 350 deg. 45-50 min until toothpick comes out clean.

Oven roasted Tomato sauce: Coat a shallow baking pan with olive oil.(9x13 or a turkey roasting pan are good). Cut up ripe tomatoes into chunks removing the cores to fill the pan. Bake slowly @300deg. turning when the tops of the tomatoes look a little browned. Continue until it’s thick enough for you. You can use as-is or strain out skins and seeds through a Squeezo, or Folley mill. Roasting imparts an almost carmelized sweetness to the sauce and darkens it a bit. As Italian as you can get…

Pappa al Pomodoro- Heat oil in skillet,add garlic and saute,stir in 1 T. tomato paste, then add qt. chicken broth, 3# diced tomatoes, Simmer 20 min. Then add herbs, pepper & salt to taste and 1# diced bread. Let stand 1 hr. Stir before serving hot or cold. Drizzle with olive oil before serving. (I guess I'm not a purest. Simplicity is more important for me. I skipped the tomato paste-only had fresh ones, didn't peel or seed my tomatoes. I used only 4c. chicken bullion instead, because of more juice from the tomatoes, and I used whole wheat bread--and it was great!)

Posted 10/2/2015 2:32pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 18, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

It’s getting downright dry, but on the other hand this is precisely the type of weather one wants in the heart of the tomato season.  Heat brings them on, and dryness keeps the plants from developing late blight which can end the season in a week.  With irrigation, we can optimize the water and keep the splitting of the fruit to a minimum.  Moisture we can’t control, like rain, is often problematic.   

We spent a good bit of the last week harvesting our early potato crop—and it’s a great one!  All those June rains pushed the yield to the max.  We’re so thankful that disease didn’t take hold.  Not so, though, with the carrots.  We’ve yet to dig them all, but at least one variety (Nelson) struggled all year with green leaves constantly dying off with a leaf blight.  The Yaya’s seem to have fared better, but we’ll see when we dig them this week.   

It appears we’ll have some serious “holes” in our season.  We normally purchase outstanding conventionally grown sweet corn from one of our neighbors.  But this year his low lying ground was so flooded early in the season that there’s not much excess to sell.  We’ve managed to get other corn from a nearby farmer.     

Our normal conventional peach supplier was devastated by extreme cold weather last January.  Hundreds of trees were killed and the survivors’ yield is down.  We have managed to get some peaches from our strawberry supplier, but we won’t be able to offer pecks of them as in past years.     

Sweltering, but enjoying summer, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: Tomatoes—a rundown with some heirlooms.  Italian Gold, Arkansas Traveler (one of our favorite pinks), Green Zebra.  Those really yummy sweet tiny plums are Blush.  Other plums types- Juliet and San Marzano Then we have our own saved variety we call Big Pink.  Very dark ones are Black Velvet.  One we call Golden yellow.  And somewhere out there we’ve got a sweet striped yellow/red called Pineapple.  There’s several paste/roma types—Plum Regal, Tiren, andFolia.  Sometimes we have a hard time keeping track of them all.   

Special Orders: Tomatoes: $20 half bushel; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20.  We generally have lots of different herbs on hand—rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, dill w/heads.  If you have need of some for a special recipe, just let us know.   

Stuffed Tomatoes: Cut tops off 4 large firm tomatoes and scoop out insides.  Mix ¼ c. dry bread crumbs 1 beaten egg, 1 diced onion, 1/3 c grated parmesan cheese, 1 tbs basil, 2 cloves minced garlic, ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 tbs parsley, salt pepper to taste. Pack tomatoes tightly, top with shredded mozzarella, bread crumbs, butter, and bake uncovered 25-30 min. @ 350 deg.

Dilly Slaw: Slice up red cabbage and 1 onion to thickness of a nickle.  Finely chop 2-4 tbs tender dill leaves. Toss with 1/3 c. mayonnaise, ¼ c. cider vinegar, ½ tsp. salt, 1 T honey.  Allow to marinate 10 min.  Variations/addition: add some finely shredded carrots, a tbs. of chopped parsley, and tbs. mustard.  Or go Greek-- substitute lemon juice and olive oil for mayo and vinegar; add crumbled feta cheese. Absolutely as good as it gets with a fresh tomato sauce…

Pasta a la Georgina:  Saute 2 lg. cloves chopped garlic and about an equal amount of finely diced fresh ginger in 2 T oil.  Add about 1# fresh ripe tomatoes, cut in chunks, and simmer.  (15 min+-)  Cook pasta, drain.  Add 1 c. chopped fresh basil to tomatoes just before serving.  Sprinkle pasta servings with grated mozzarella cheese and top with sauce.  A great 20 minute meal!

Posted 10/2/2015 2:28pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 11, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Taking it up a notch. After digging carrots in the morning, Saturday, we loaded up with boxes and began picking the main tomato field. We’d been picking the upper half of the field for several weeks. These were the early ones—Valley Girls and Defiants. But Saturday, the Mountain Freshes, just below, were turning red too! By 5:00 the truck was full, we’d completed only 2/3 of the field, and we decided to wash and sort before picking yet more. The barn’s full of these delicious seasonal favorites. “Tomatogeddon” is coming. Enjoy fresh made sauce, or enjoy them fresh. Gorge.   

If you’ve had an orchard or if you’ve planted an apple tree in the yard and watched it grow, you know the upbeat glow you have admiring the fruit as it reaches maturity. With a small orchard, it’s really fun to pick apples. No bending over, you climb, reach for the biggest and best, find ones to munch on, and the view from atop is magnificent. But on the other hand, once picked, there’s no more admiring all those red orbs decorating row after row. It appears we will have one of the best apple crops in many years. There’s several varieties which we will have for the first time to give to customers. It’s the “on” year for the biennial Primas and the hard pruning over the last two winters seems to have rejuvenated many of the Liberties. Cross our fingers it all pans out.   

If you have others picking up your veggies for you, be sure to tell them to only take the box with your name on it. We had a number of subscribers saying they arrived to find their box already emptied. We’re not totally sure, but in vacation season we think many folks tell a friend or neighbor to claim the box. We surmise they arrive and just take any box without looking for a name. Also, if this happens to your veggies, please let the stop host know, so if there’s a box left at the end of the evening, you can claim the box which would be left over.

Coming Soon: Lots of heirloom tomatoes, more potatoes, carrots, beets, red cabbage, peppers—hot and not.

In the heart of summer, enjoying, we are sincerely,                                            

Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: If you got apples this week, they are Redfrees and Daytons. Both have a nice sweetness and color for an early apple.

Notes: We’ll gladly take clean pints returned from the blueberries (sorry, no other sizes or types)  

Special Orders: Tomatoes: $20 half bushel; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Imperfect veggies: We often have lots of things that we just can’t bear to toss. There’s always more veggies of this sort on the barn checkout table than we could ever eat. Boxes and binsful. We’ve been harvesting eggplant and there are any number of these which have one spot on them, or a sunburn; we’ve still got lots of “pie apples”; and we’ve got many onions in need of a paring knife. All this should be used rather quickly and we’ll get it to you free of charge. We generally have lots of different herbs on hand—rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, dill w/heads. If you have need of some for a special recipe, just let us know.  

Roasted Tomato Pizza: Brush a cookie sheet with oil. Lay tomatoes sliced 3/8-1/2" thick on the cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and dust with garlic powder and bake about 1/2 hr at 350 deg. until they start to dry out a little. When the pizza crusts are ready, carefully move the tomato slices with a pancake flipper and arrange to nearly cover the pizza. Sprinkle a small amount of grated mozzarella on top and then top with vegetables sauted slightly in olive oil with garlic (suggestions: peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and onions).  

Waldorf Salad: Cut up 3-4 apples into chunks. Add several grated carrots&raisins to taste. Dress with mayonaise, or yogurt and mayo 2:1.  

German Potato Salad: Cook potatoes until tender, but firm. Cool and chop into bite sized pieces--cubes or slices. Fry and crumble up 4 slices of bacon. To the bacon fat add 2 tbs sugar, 1/3 c. water, 1/4 c. vinegar, and 1 tbs. flour. Cook until thickened, then add 1/2 c. chopped onions, and toss with potatoes. Allow about an hour to cool and flavors to blend. Then add 4 tbs. chopped parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Posted 10/2/2015 2:26pm by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 4, 2015

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Farmers are invariably students of the weather. We’re always checking the weather report and watching the sky. We correlate this with our own memory and experience. In weekly and daily plans of work, expectations of the weather figure large. Over the last two weeks, it’s been getting downright droughty. We’d reset to our usual summer routine of irrigation. Generally, every other day a crop gets 4 hours of drip irrigation. We alternate the two fields of peppers, tomatoes…herbs, eggplant, and move the drip tapes between alternate rows of lettuce, “uno si, otro no.” Monday was to be one of two days this week with rain predicted—but only 30-40%. Dry as it’s been and cool, that didn’t sound like much more than a sprinkle was coming. Nonetheless, we got parsley, apples, peppers, tomatoes picked and potatoes dug early in the day—just in case it would rain. We’d been waiting for a chance to plant lettuce, so mid-afternoon as it began to cloud over slightly (but still patches of blue visible), I tilled the field and Angel, Maria, and Todd started planting. When it was going well, I took off to brushhog a field near the potatoes and beans. I could see clouds thickening to the south and thought nothing of it, because weather usually comes from the west. A little sprinkle and it stopped. With one more pass to finish mowing, the real rain commenced. Quick decision was: go for it. Once up and down the field, the trip in high gear up Ziegler Rd., and into the barn was more than sufficient to justify a complete change of clothes and to realize the only thing waterproof was the farmer’s skin. Lettuce got planted amidst everything, and later the heavier downpours of the evening washed it all in and serenaded us to sleep.       

The cuc patch has pretty much come to an end. The zucchinis are pretty close to demise as well. It was a great run of them which we hope you enjoyed.   

If you have others picking up your veggies for you, be sure to tell them to only take the box with your name on it. We had a number of subscribers saying they arrived to find their box already emptied. We’re not totally sure, but in vacation season we think many folks tell a friend or neighbor to claim the box. We surmise they arrive and just take any box without looking for a name. Also, if this happens to your veggies, please let the stop host know, so if there’s a box left at the end of the evening, you can claim the box which would be left over.

Coming Soon: Lots of field tomatoes, more potatoes, carrots, beets, red cabbage, variety of apples, peppers—hot and not.

Enjoying the rain, the sun, and all such, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew

ID: If y

ou got apples this week, they are Redfrees. A nice sweetness and color for an early apple. Notes: We’ll gladly take clean pints returned from the blueberries (sorry, no other sizes or types)

Special Orders: Basil: half bushel/$17; Seven grain bread @$4/loaf; various cheeses; ground and whole bean coffee. Easy to freeze for the winter: Collards, kale, Swiss chard—12 bunch box $20. Imperfect veggies: We often have lots of things that we just can’t bear to toss. There’s always more veggies of this sort on the barn checkout table than we could ever eat. Boxes and binsful. We’ve been harvesting eggplant and there are any number of these which have one spot on them, or a sunburn; we’ve still got lots of “pie apples”; and we’ve got many onions in need of a paring knife. All this should be used rather quickly and we’ll get it to you free of charge.  

Moussaka: Slice eggplant about 1/2" thick and place on will oiled cookie sheets. Brush the top generously with more olive oil. Bake at 350 deg until slightly cooked (abut 20 min). (Alternate method is to cut eggplant, freeze in plastic bags, defrost and allow to drain, then brush with oil) Meanwhile fry 1# ground lamb (or beef), 2 finely chopped onions (green are fine too), and 2 cloves garlic. Add 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1 c tomato sauce and 1/2 c wine. Oil casserole dish, place one layer of eggplant, then the meat mix, then the other layer of potatoes.   Blend 2 c. milk, 2T cornstarch or flour, 1/2 t salt, and 4 eggs. Pour over casserole. Top with 1 c grated cheese (Kefaloteri or Parmesan) and sprinkle with 1/4 t cinnamon. Bake at 325 deg for 45 min. Can be made with potatoes as well or alternate layers. Since this recipe is for 9x13" pan, if there doesn't seem to be enough, one can cut the amounts of other ingredients in half and make a 9x9 pan.

Caprese Salad: Slice fresh tomatoes and arrange on platter with fresh mozzarella sliced ¼” thick. Place pieces of fresh basil leaves all around. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top. Fresh pepper to taste. Key is fresh mozzarella and basil. Easy and addictive.

Barbecue Potatoes: Mix well- 1/3 c. oil, ¼ c. catsup, 2 tsp dry mustard, ½ tsp paprika, and ½ tsp. salt. Cut 6 med. Potatoes into 4 wedges each. Or use whole potatoes 1-1 ½ in diameter. Then slit potatoes with knife every ¼”. Brush potatoes with half of mixture and bake @425 deg. 35 min. until tender, brushing occasionally with remaining mixture.