Summer Share 2016 - Week 17 - Middle Way Farm
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Summer Share
Weekly Newsletter 

Week 17
Sep. 18, 2016
There's Still Time to Sign-up for the Fall Share. Share starts Nov. 1-2. Spots available!
Garlic Workshop and Work Day

Grow Your Own Garlic

1-2 pm, October 29

Free workshop

Learn the basics of growing garlic in your home garden including varieties, soil preparation, planting time, mulching, plant care, harvest, curing, storage and saving seed.   All participants will receive a bulb of garlic to plant and some extra bulbs will be available for sale


Garlic Planting Workday

2-5 pm, October 29

 Volunteers should wear close toed shoes, bring sun protection (hat, long sleeves, sunglasses, sunblock) and warm clothes, have a water bottle, and be prepared to stoop, bend over, and work on their hands and knees. No experience is required, volunteers will be taught everything they need to know. Come for all or part of workday.

What's Good This Week

Tomatoes still producing well. Bulk orders back up after a good pick on Friday and more expected on Monday. Tomatoes like 85 degrees and dry in mid-September!

The colored peppers are at their peak. Bulk orders of peppers for freezing (mix red, yellow, green, purple, etc.) will be available at the end of the season in October. 

Some truly delicious baby spinach available this week and in coming weeks. 

Super nice head lettuce and French Breakfast radishes this week. 

Fall cabbages looks great. Green ones available this week are big, 3 plus pounds. 

There are a ton of nice looking leeks in the field. Available for custom order now till the end of the season. 

What's in the Standard Share
(With Custom Order Options and Prices)

Aronia Berries - 1 pint ($3/pint or 2 for $5)
Cabbage, Green  - 1 head ($3/head)
Cucumber - 1-2 cukes (Standard Share Only)
 Beans, Dragon Tongue - Amount TBD based on harvest (Standard Share Only)
Head Lettuce -
1-2 heads ($3 per head or 2 for $5. Choose red, green, or romaine)
Onions, Cipollini- 3/4 pound (Standard Share Only)
Pepper, Colored - 3-4 peppers ($2/large pepper or 2 small peppers)
Pepper, Green Chile - a few (4 for $1)
Radish, French Breakfast - 1 bunch ($2/bunch or 3 for $5)
Spinach, Baby - 6 oz. bag ($4/bag or 2 for $7)
Tomatoes, Slicing & Roma - 1-2 pounds ($2.50/pound or $10 for 5 pounds)
Also Available for Custom Order

Arugula - $4 per 6 oz. bag or 2 for $7
Baby Kale - $4 per 6 oz. bag or 2 for $7
Cabbage, Napa - $2.50/head
Fresh Celery Root - $1.50/root or 3 for $4
Garlic, Hardneck - $1.50 each
Green Onions - $2/bunch
Head Lettuce - $3 per head or 2 for $5. Choose red, green, or romaine. 
Kale, Red Curly - $2/ bunch or 3 for $5
Kale, Green Curly - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Leeks - $1.50/large leek or 3 for $4. Bunch of 4-5 medium size for $3.50
Onions, Candy - $2.50 per pound
Onions, Small White - $4 for 1.5 pound 
Parsley - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Pepper, Green or Purple - $1/pepper or 3 for $2.50
Radish, Heirloom Osterguss - $2/bunch or 3 for $5
Tomato Medley - $3/pint or 2 for $5
Zinnia (flowers) - $6 per bunch with returnable quart jar 

Fruit Share
Apples - 3 pound bag
What's Coming Up, What's Going Out

Sweet potato harvest starts this week! Should be available for shares starting next week. 

Fall broccoli is beginning to form heads. Should be ready for harvest in next 1-2 weeks. 

Very last of white onions available this week. Only enough cipollini onions for one week of standard shares, unfortunately. 

Winter squash is on order from Rolling Acres, a certified organic Amish farm in southern Iowa and will be available next week! Sweet dumplings, acorns, red kuri, butternut, and spaghetti. 

Dragon Tongue beans should be in full production by next week. They are just getting started this week, hence the limited availability. 
Place Your Custom Order

September is typically is a month of abundance on a produce farm. It’s a month when the summer crops like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, etc. are still producing while many fall crops are also being harvested such as spinach, cabbage, broccoli, etc. I find myself in a bit of an awkward position this year. A number of crops that I would expect to have at this point in the season are not available or in limited supply while I am waiting for late plantings (broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, beets) to mature. These plantings will mainly benefit the fall share in November and December. Not having as much produce available at a time where harvest is supposed to be the most abundant makes me understandably nervous. 

Serving the CSA is always my first priority on the farm, but particularly when produce is in limited supply. For that reason, you may not be experiencing the relative scarcity I am alluding to. I work to keep the standard share contents equal to the value that you paid in at the beginning of the season, and I always offer products to the custom share before they are available for other markets. However, it does means that I have less to sell in my other markets - farmers markets, Iowa Food Coop, Farm to Folk, Relish, and other direct sales, which make up about 1/3 of revenue outside of CSA. In the past two years, because of over-planting, good yield, and more limited markets, I got used to having TOO MUCH of certain crops. This year, for the first time since my first year, I am getting used to having TOO LITTLE, or maybe JUST ENOUGH. I am thinking of this situation as part of my growing pains (pun intended!) as a beginning farmer who is building his capacity and markets, learning about production, determining long-term direction. I share this with you because I think this type of transparency is what you deserve and I want to reiterate as I have in the past how important you are as CSA customers to my business and to me personally. Your consistent support, loyalty, and positive attitude buoys me both financially and emotionally through the ups and downs of both during the growing season. 

My long-term outlook for the farm is optimistic. I feel that there is tremendous opportunity for me to grow and refine what I’m doing. As much as I have learned and improved over the past few years, I am still simultaneously heartened and intimidated by how much more I have to learn and improve, as well as continuing to develop the capacity to deal with those things outside of my control (the weather, mainly). I also have a long way to go in integrating my farm work goals with other personal goals. As this growing season draws to close, there is a lot for me to reflect on this winter and use to plan for next year. Thank you for being a part of this season and I hope that you will continue to be a part of making Middle Way Farm possible in 2017. 

Your farmer,


What to Do with Your Share

Aronia Berries This is only the second time I have ever put these in the CSA. I planted my first aronia bushes in late 2013 and have continued to add some plants each year for a total of of about 75 bushes. The plants from 2013 have really begun to bear heavily this year. They are a native, drought tolerant perennial shrub that is often used in windbreak plantings. As a food crop, they are much more well known in Europe, although there are number of Midwestern growers who would like to see that change. 

Preparation & Cooking:  The first thing to know about aronias is that although they look like a dark blueberry, they are not very good raw. They have some sweetness but mainly taste astringent (dry out your mouth). Their best uses are in baked goods or used in cooked sweet or savory dishes. Lots of resources exist online for how to use aronias, since the Midwestern aronia industry has been trying to promote their widespread adoption for years. For the Recipe of the Week, I included a savory dish, aronia berry salsa, that also incorporates other ingredients from this week's share. The website where I pulled the recipe from (a farm run by Grinnell College alum Jim Riddle) has other good aronia berry recipes on it.  Example tip from that website: "I also made a great ice cream sauce - also delicious on cheesecake - by putting about 2 cups aronia berries ina  food processing and dicing them as fine as possible. I added them to 1 cup organic cane sugar, 1/4 cup organic corn starch, and 2 cups apple juice. which I had cooked for a few minutes to thicken, then cooked the whole amount for about an hour on low heat. It is delicious! We had it on vanilla ice cream for dessert." Note that aronias have a strong purple pigment that will stain your fingers when handling them. Its actually quite desirable as a food and wine coloring!

Storage: Store in the fridge, use within a few weeks. Aronias keep very well for a berry, even when not refrigerated. These berries have begun to dehydrate a bit from being left on the bush for a bit longer than is usual. They can be frozen raw. 

Beans, Dragon Tongues -  This is a truly excellent heirloom variety that can be found from a variety of seed companies (these being from High Mowing Organic Seeds in Vermont but also available from Seed Savers in Iowa). They are flat, large, roma type bean with a creamy white/light yellow background color and streaks of purple on top of that. The purple stripes disappear when cooked. These beans are more succulent and certainly better tasting raw than a green bean. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Like cabbages, broccoli, and just about any other vegetable, roasting is a great option for green beans. They can also be sliced and sauted in oil or butter as a side dish. Green bean pate is another favorite recipe of mine. 

Storage:  Store in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer for up to a week.Green beans, like peas, diminish in quality fairly rapidly the longer they are stored, so the sooner you use them the better. 

Cabbage Like beets, cabbage often gets a bad rap, largely because of how it is prepared. Most people have experienced overcooked cabbage that has been boiled or stewed into bad tasting mush. Fresh cabbage that has not been dehydrating in storage, properly prepared, is something else entirely. The savoycabbage is the crinkly leafed one. Its known for being particularly sweet and tender when compared to a green cabbage and good for use raw as a wrap or garnish. 

Preparation & Cooking:  The key with cabbage, as any vegetable, is to not overcook it! Lightly sauted cabbage, just enough to soften and brighten, is excellent. You should remove the cabbage from heat before its color begins to dull. Roasted cabbage is also great if little known way of preparing cabbage. Then there are of course cabbage salads and coleslaw.To prep cabbage, first remove the leathery, damaged outer leaves. Slice the cabbage in halve and cut out the pithy core at the bottom by the stem. You can leave cabbage halves intact for roasting or slice thinly across the cabbage for other recipes. Halves, quarters, or sliced cabbage can be refrigerated in a sealed plastic container for a week or more if you can't use the whole cabbage at once. If you have a glut of cabbage, you can always make sauerkraut, which is probably the easiest fermented food to make. You just need cabbage, salt, your fist, a big glass jar, a towel, and a few weeks! 

Storage: Keep uncut cabbage in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer. It will store for several weeks or more. If the outer layers go bad, you can usually peel them away to find good leaves underneath. Spring grown varieties are not meant for long-term (months) storage. The fall cabbage varieties, which will appear in the final summer shares and the fall share, are specifically meant for long-term storage through the winter months. 

Cipollini Onions -  Meaning "little onion" in Italian, cipollinis are unique for their flattened shape (they look kind of like an onion that got squashed) and outstanding sweetness. Your bag will include yellow and red varieties (reds were quite a bit smaller on average and less abundant)

Preparation & Cooking:  Because of their high sugar content, cipollinis are the best onion for caramelizing, which requires you to chop and cook them for a long time at low heat until they go from translucent to light brown. They also work great for grilling as kebabs because their flattened shape allows them to cook more quickly and evenly than a round onion. Same goes for roasting whole in the oven or stewing in the crockpot. Otherwise you can use these guys just like you would any other onion. They're a little harder to peel and prep because of their shape, but the pay-off is in the sweetness. 

Storage: Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Good ventilation is helpful. A mesh bag hanging is ideal. The fridge is not a good place for onion sunless you can keep already cut or sliced onions for a week or so. Old onions will begin to shrivel and sprout. Use cipollinis relatively quickly, they are not good keepers. 

Cucumbers - I grow several prolific American, burpless slicing varieties. While the European types with thin skin are wonderful flavor, they are more difficult to grow and sustain more pest damage. I don't grow small pickling types.

Preparation & Cooking:  I like to leave some of the cucumber peel on by peeling them in stripes. Check Recipes of the Week from the Week 9 newsletter for a good ways to get your fill of raw cucumbers. 

Storage: Keep cucumbers in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity and use within a week or so. 

Sweet Peppers - We divide the pepper field up into two sections each season - one where we pick green peppers as soon as they are large enough and the other where we leave those green peppers to ripen into red (or orange or yellow depending on the variety) peppers. This week you are receiving all ripe peppers, which may be red bell, red bullnose, orange bullnose, or chocolate brown (reddish brown). Ripe peppers have fully matured and are sweeter than green peppers. They also tend to be more susceptible to damage in the field so are often less perfect or have minor blemishes or wrinkling of the skin.  

Preparation & Cooking:   To quickly prep, cut the pepper in half lengthwise and pull out the stem and seeds from the top of each side and discard. Slice the peppers lengthwise. Colored peppers can be used like green peppers but you can also slice them in half, lay them out flat on a baking tray, brush with oil, and broil them on low in the oven. They should be watched closely and removed just as the skin begins to char. You can then remove the skin and refrigerate the roasted pepper for up to several weeks. Peppers that are fully colored (have no green left) are best for roasting. 

Storage: Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer set on high humidity. Use within a week or so, while the peppers are still relatively firm. They will begin to shrivel with age.

Hot Peppers, Green Chiles - These chiles come from a variety called "Joe's Long Cayenne". They turn red and dry right on the plant, which you can then harvest at the end of the season and hang up over the winter. The green, immature chiles are a nice, not supper hot pepper (less heat than jalapeno in my estimation) good for including in salsas, like the Recipe of the Week

Preparation & Cooking:  Most of the heat of hot peppers (capsaicin is the name of the chemical compound that gives pepper spice) is contained in the seeds, so removing the seeds can cut down on the spice. I like sauteing hot peppers with garlic, onions, and cumin in oil as a nice base for other recipes. 

Storage:  Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a few weeks. Hot peppers do keep better than sweet peppers. 

French Breakfast Radishes are an outstanding heirloom radish that has become my favorite to grow. They are a beautiful pointed radish with red shoulders and a white tip and outstanding flavor.

Preparation & Cooking:  These would be a beautiful addition to salads and perfect shape for dipping and crudites. The tops will be nice quality as far as radishes go and can be used as a cooking green. 

Storage:  Keep in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer on high humidity. Use within a week or so. The tops should be separated from the roots and used within a few days or discarded. 

Tomato. Slicing & Roma- Slicing tomatoes denotes any larger, round tomato that is typically used for making tomato slices. It could be a hybrid or heirloom tomato depending on availability. Roma tomatoes are a long, oval tomato that have less water and more meat than slicers. They are specifically meant for cooking, as they do not contain as much water and therefore do not need to be boiled down as much as slicers do to produce a sauce or paste. 

Preparation & Cooking:  Cut out the stem end of the tomato and the pith just below it. Any surface blemishes can be trimmed off as well. Roma (and slicers) tomatoes should be chopped into smaller pieces up prior to cooking to speed their breakdown. Some people prefer to remove the skin first. To do so, bring a pot of water to boil. Dip in the tomatoes for 30 seconds to minute then remove and cool immediately. This should loosen the skin enough so that you can slip it off. You may also use slicing tomatoes for cooking, but they will have more water. 

Storage:  NEVER refrigerate tomatoes unless you're trying to keep them from going bad for a short period of time. They lose their flavor in the fridge. Keep them on the counter and use ripe tomatoes within a few days. Unripe tomatoes may be held separately from ripe ones and given a few days to develop full ripeness and flavor. Store tomatoes upside down (resting on their shoulders) in a single layer on the counter, windowsill, tray, plate, etc, out of direct sunlight. Don't pile up tomatoes and don't put them a bag. Watch for signs of spoiling and use spoiled ones immediately or discard. Tomatoes freeze very well without cooking. Simply remove the stem end and pack in a sealed freezer bag. 

Recipe of the Week

Aronia Berry Salsa (makes 12 servings)

- 1 medium red onion (cipollinis can be used instead)
- 1 14-ounce can whole corn
- 1 14-ounce can black beans
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen aronia berries
- 4 cups Roma tomatoes, chopped (slicing tomatoes would be fine)
- 3 jalapenos, seeded chopped (use green chiles as substitute)
- 4 limes
- 1 teaspoon salt

Finely chop the onion and place in a small glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt and squeeze the juice of one lime over the top. Mix well and set aside.

Drain the corn and the black beans, and combine them in a large mixing bowl. Wash the frozen aronia berries and add them to the corn and black beans. Add the chopped tomatoes and the seeded and chopped jalapenos. Mix well.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining limes onto the tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add the chopped onions and stir again. Let chill for an hour before serving with tortilla chips.

Photo of the Week
Monday morning greens harvest last week with work share member Jenn in the foreground and employee Megan in the background. We cut and washed well over 100 pounds of greens that day. 
Copyright © 2016 Middle Way Farm, All rights reserved.

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