Current Newsletters

Posted 8/10/2017 7:33am by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 8, 2017

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

Red Alert!  We’re starting to see all manner of tomatoes ripening in the field.  We’ll have pink, yellow, green, and of course red ones.  They can be round, pear, or oblate, from small cherry sized to giant grapefruit sized orbs. We hope you enjoy them while they last—usually until early October.  See our website for ID and varieties. 

Fennel has been a bit disappointing this season with smaller size and many going to seed.  It was a different variety than our standard for years which seed companies quit carrying.  Might also have been a dry spell while young. This unusual vegetable is a great side dish. Simply cut up the bulb portion into bite sized pieces, discarding the tougher part of the upper stem.  Saute 10 min. in oil, then add a small amount of very strong boullion, turn down the heat, and simmer until just tender (10 min.).  Along with onions, potatoes, or carrots, it’s also great baked with a chicken or other meat.

  In the last week, we’ve managed to harvest all the bulbing onions amidst the raindrops.  It was a great crop and we resorted to creative ways to corral them back to the barn.  They are drying on flatbed wagons and spread out on the barn floor.  Hopefully they will cure well and we’ll have lots of this allium for the foreseeable future.

   This week, we are giving you a double batch of green beans. We normally pick a planting over a span of two weeks.  The beans are just beautiful right now (had some for supper last night and but it’s getting very dry in the field so likely by next week they will have gotten tough.  So we decided just to pick them all this week and give them to you all at once.  Just be aware that next week your box might look a tad thin as a result.   We missed the order from Goat Rodeao last week. It should be there for you this week if you were to get it. (chevre, stampede, and chickabitty)   With sadness, we bid farewell to our youngest daughter, Grace, who returns today to Tacoma.  She’s been here for the last month helping out, as needed, while she has a break from working in special ed at the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation.

Enjoying the wonderfully cool nights, we are sincerely,                                                                                                                                                             Don,Becky,Maria,Grace & the Farm Crew I

D: Apples this week are Redfree.  They are the first of somewhat sweeter table varieties, but are good for baking too.  Next up will be the Primas, which are so plentiful they are literally breaking the tree branches.  It’s the on-year for this heavily biennial variety which is similar to Summer Rambo. Many of the pie apples are these. Because we don’t usually wash our apples, you might see a whitish residue on the surface.  It’s a food grade kaolin clay spray we use to confuse the bugs.  You can wash or rub it right off.

Vacations & Messages:  Please indicate your stop location when sending vacation messages.  This saves us having to look it up in the database and we can go straight to mark the barn lists.  If you get any of the once-a-month items, like chickens or mushrooms, indicate that so we can mark those lists too.  All but the mushrooms can be delivered the following week, but at least we have a heads up.  Let us know if you want a credit or to donate the box.   Try to avoid mixed messages when ordering extra items, eg. Peaches, apples, ... To keep track, we often create files into which messages are automatically sorted.  If you add a message about being on vacation next week to a message with “peaches” in the subject, we won’t necessarily see it unless we’re organizing the peach order.

What could be easier and more elegant... 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).

Dilly Beans: Cook or steam trimmed beans 3-5 min.  Drain when beans are still bright green and just tender.  Stir 2 Tbs. fresh chopped dill into warm beans.  Combine 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/3 c. cider vinegar, 2 lg. cloves pressed garlic, and  1/2 tsp honey in saucepan and bring quickly to boil.  Simmer 2 min., pour over green beans and mix well.  Add 1 tbs vegetable oil if desired.  Serve hot or chilled.

Cabbage Curry---Grind 1/2 tsp caraway seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 4-5 black peppercorns, and 3 whole cloves. Heat 4 tbs. ghee (clarified butter=just the clear part of heated butter) in heavy cassarole and when hot add 2 chopped large tomatoes, 1/2 the ground spices plus 1/2 tsp tumeric, and 1/2 tsp paprika or cayenne and cook, stirring often until the puree is reduced to a thick sauce. Add one small cabbage shredded and stir until it glistens.  Cook on low heat for 15 min., add remaining spices, salt, and 2 tbs. chopped cilantro.  (1 c. fresh or frozen peas can be added at this time too.) Cook for 5 min more.

Posted 8/10/2017 7:31am by Don Kretschmann.

Aug. 1, 2017

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   August—and ready for the onslaught of summer heat and sun expressed in tomatoes and corn.  When we first started truck farming, these were almost the only items available consistently at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.  We were one of the first farms to produce a wide selection of all sort of vegetables.  Over the years this has become much more common, but these two popular vegetables are still the draws which customers associate with the summer season. 

   We’ve immensely enjoyed simple salads of sliced cucumber, slivered onions, green peppers and tomatoes. A few olives, oil and vinegar, or your favorite salad dressing makes a delicious and nutritious plate, one could pile high with minimal calories.  Lettuce, a protein, and carb makes it a complete and very light meal.

   It seems so odd to have had few roots so far other than the potatoes.  Abundance of rain allowed the weeds to overtake our carrots and beets.  We’re harvesting them this week and we’ll hope for the best. 

   Note as we approach the avalanche of tomatoes.  This fruit shouldn’t be refrigerated unless they are dead ripe.  They won’t ripen properly once chilled.  Ideal temperature to store them and slow down ripening is 55 deg. We try to give you a mix of tomatoes by variety and degree of maturity. Sometimes there are just so many that we must load you up.  One can use larger quantities of ripe tomatoes to make simple fresh sauces and for roasting and cooking.  If you have freezer space, they can also be simply put in a plastic bag and frozen whole until you can deal with them—even for winter stews and soups. Just wash them and bag.  Don’t cut up, or you’re forced to use them all at once.  They’re like a bag of large marbles and you can take out as many as you need.

  This is cheese week.  We missed the order from Goat Rodeao so will have the chevre, stampede, and chickabitty (camembert style) next week. Enjoying the cooler air behind yesterday’s front, we are sincerely,                                                                                                                                                                              Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew

Vacations & Messages:  Please indicate your stop location when sending vacation messages.  This saves us having to look it up in the database and we can go straight to mark the barn lists.  If you get any of the once-a-month items, like chickens or mushrooms, indicate that so we can mark those lists too.  All but the mushrooms can be delivered the following week, but at least we have a heads up.  Let us know if you want a credit or to donate the box.   Try to avoid mixed messages when ordering extra items, eg. Peaches, apples, ... To keep track, we often create files into which messages are automatically sorted.  If you add a message about being on vacation next week to a message with “peaches” in the subject, we won’t necessarily see it unless we’re organizing the peach order.    Zucchini Pizza: Oil cookie sheet.  Slice zucchini lengthwise in strips about 1/3” thick and arrange on sheet.  Top with tomato sauce and shredded cheese.  Bake until tender and just becoming leathery.

Sweet n Sour Cucumber Onion Salad: Thinly slice 4 cucs, 1 med. Onion.  Bring to boil, ¼ c. water, ½ c. cider vinegar, 3 tbs. sugar.  Pour over cucs and onions; toss.  Can add 1 tbs minced dill.  Cover and allow to cool and marinate 1 hr.                                                                                Basque Potatoes:  Chop finely 4 tbs. rosemary and thyme. If dried, use a coffee grinder. Mix well with 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 c. olive oil.   Slice 1# red potatoes about 1/2" thick. Toss potatoes well in herb mixture and arrange on oiled cookie sheet.  Bake @ 350 deg. about 20 min                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Don’s Easy Peach Galette:  Preheat oven to 425 deg. Sift 2.5 c. white wholewheat flour with 2 tbs. sugar 1 tsp salt.  Heat ½ c. water and 1 c. butter until water boils and butter is melted.  Pour into blender.  Pulse until well emulsified.  Pour immediately into flour mix.  Mix until nice dough.  Divide in half, place on 6mil. Plastic sheet folding over to allow rolling out a 1’ dia. Round.  Peel back top layer of plastic. Scooch in side so it fits buttered cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet over top of dough and flip over, placing dough on cookie sheet. Repeat with the other dough.  Cut up 2 peaches into 1/2” thick slices.  Sprinkle with Tbs flour, 3 Tbs sugar.  Toss gently. Place peaches on dough in a ring overlapping slightly forming 7-8" circle—kind of a pinwheel.  Dot w/ Tbs. butter.  Fold edge of dough on top leaving center open.  Sprinkle peaches with tbs coarse sugar.  Brush pastry with scrambled egg.  Bake 20 min.  Cool.

Posted 8/10/2017 7:26am by Don Kretschmann.

July 25, 2017

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   As we get into the second third of the season, it’s starting to feel like real summer.  With the heat and humidity wave of the last week, we’re seeing the first of the field tomatoes, though most of those in the boxes this week are from the hi tunnel (thus not really that great tasting).  Within a few weeks, we expect our tomato fields to fully take over our lives.  By the end of it, we’ll be praying for frost.  The early zucchini is waning as are the cucumbers, though for a week or two we’ll have a good supply.  After seeding the winter squashes at the end of June, we finished the fields with some zucchini, so we should have a small amount later in August.  Since deer ate all the melons we planted, we just filled in that space with cucumber for later in the season.  Both these seedings are unusual for us but will be welcomed later.

  We generally stretch a planting of green beans picking them over a two week period.  With all the heat, they are not as prime as last week, but good.  We’ve got another planting just coming into flower and should arrive in about two weeks.  More will follow in succession into the fall.

   Longtime subscribers know we have a solar array which provides nearly all the power for farm and home.  It has operated flawlessly now for 4 years, but in May we noticed the circuit breaker which connects the array to the power company line was tripped (symptom was that our irrigation pump wasn’t working because it had no power). It’s continued to trip during the day, so we had the solar contractor look into it.  Turns out the array is just producing too much power for the line.  We’ve tracked production over the years and noticed that the array has produced about 25% more power than it was supposed to!  Kind of like buying a car which gets 25% more gas mileage than the sticker says.  While the breaker was new—the first four years—it tolerated the extra heat generated.  Now we either have to replace the 200A breaker and wear it out as well, or replace the undersized line to the pole.  Kind of made us chuckle—problem: too much power produced. But for now it’s required an extra trip to the pumphouse each evening to see it’s working OK. 

   The two earliest apples are yellow Pristines and red Williams Pride.  Pristines are very juicy and make the best pies of all.  Tuesday subscribers have these.  Williams Prides are semi-sweet and can go both ways, for baking or fresh.

We got a call Monday morning from our organic blueberry grower saying he wouldn’t have any more this season.  Very sad.  He’s been devastated by the spotted wing drosophila-a fruitfly which lays eggs in the berries.  As suddenly as it started, the blueberry season is over. Peaches from the McConnell’s are coming.  They aren’t organically grown but are irresistibly juicy and delicious.  When you signed up you said .  No need to repeat, but if you want only organic peaches, just let us know.

Enjoying the cooler air behind yesterday’s front, we are sincerely,                                                                                                                                                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew

ID: If you’ve got a smooth purplish long curving fruit, it’s Oriental eggplant.  These tend to have less seeds and not mush like the centers of traditional eggplant.

Vacation & Notes:  Please indicate your stop location when sending messages.  This saves us having to look it up in the database and we can go straight to mark the barn lists.  If you get any of the once-a-month items, like chickens or mushrooms, indicate that so we can mark those lists too.  All but the mushrooms can be delivered the following week, but at least we have a heads up.  Let us know if you want a credit or to donate the box.   Try to avoid mixed messages when ordering extra items, eg. Peaches, apples, ... To keep track, we often create files into which messages are automatically sorted.  If you add a message about being on vacation next week to a message with “peaches” in the subject, we won’t necessarily see it unless we’re organizing the peach order.   

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: add a handful of raisins; they absorb the excess juice. Mix with about 3/4 c. sugar or honey, 2 tbs flour, cinnamon to taste.  Make dough and line piepan with crust.  Fill with apples, piled high, arranging 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 steam out.  Bake @ 350 deg. 1 hr. until inserting a sharp knife reveals the apples are cooked. My go-to piecrust which you’ve seen before.  Many folks mistakenly think pie making is a difficult art.  With this crust, it’s quick, easy, and can be made with just as easily with whole grain flour.  Start to finish, it shouldn’t take much more than half an hour, then an hour to bake. I’m determined to make a video proving it.  Depending on the flour, add a little more boiling water to make the dough easier to work with if you aren’t real quick rolling it out. Pie crust-sift 2c. flour(any kind)+ 1/2t. baking powder+ 1t.salt. Blend 1/2c. 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. Ethnic favorite.  Guests will be in for a real treat. MoussakaSlice eggplant about 1/2" thick, sprinkle with salt and pat dry after it sits for 10 min.   Oil cookie sheet (s) and lay out eggplant in a single layer and brush top with 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 eggplant.   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.-hr.  Can be made with potatoes as well, which would be sliced in 3/8” think rounds, brushed with oil and baked until firm/tender, or alternate eggplant/potato layers.  Since this recipe is for 9x13" pan, one can cut the amounts of other ingredients in half and make a 9x9 pan. 

For Extra Purchase: Seven Grain bread @$4/loaf. Peaches (McConnell Farm, non-organic): $20/10#chip.  Indicate the week or weeks and indicate in subject line the item.

Posted 8/10/2017 7:24am by Don Kretschmann.

July 18, 2016

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   We’d been anxiously waiting since the 4th of July to seed the fall carrots, beans, and beets as well as transplant cauliflower, cabbage, and the largest planting of the season for broccoli.  Finally, on Saturday, the stars aligned. In a dawn-to-dusk workday, we planted beans, broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce until we couldn’t see. Monday saw the north face of our hill dry a tad and the late roots were seeded. 

   The spring beets and carrots have been a real disappointment this year.  We spent lots of time on our hands and knees weeding them when they first came up.  But the repeated rains kept the weeds sprouting and prevented us from cultivating.  Shorthanded, without our Mexican helpers didn’t help.  But additional help might not have allowed us to do much more than the half the field we managed to keep weeded.  We’re considering “brush hog therapy” (giant mower) both to see the beets, and perhaps to allow them to get ahead of the weeds.

   Tomatoes look fantastic—we just picked the first field ripened one.  With more than adequate moisture, they’re growing fast and keeping us hopping tying them up. Peppers are nearly full sized, too. Hopefully basil coming next week, but the Japanese beetles have been difficult to deter. We’ve got the field surrounded with bag-a-bug traps.  We’re catching lots.  Luckily they seem to like certain weeds very much too!  

  The first green beans deserve a simple preparation.  Snap off ends and then in half.  Boil until just tender; drain; serve with tad of salt; if you must—a little balsamic or wine vinegar. We’re seeing the first bell peppers sizing up nicely as well as plenty of the hots. The apples are just starting.  It appears we’ll have a good sequence of early ones.  We don’t have nearly enough for everyone to get each variety and will cycle through the varieties.  We’ll do our best to describe each one and how it’s best to enjoy.  They are not varieties one would typically see in a grocery store, so the names are likely unfamiliar except to CSA vets. 

Enjoying respite from the raindrops, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew

ID: Not everyone got it, but if you’ve got a smooth purplish long curving fruit, it’s Oriental eggplant.  Tend to have less seeds and not mush like the centers of traditional eggplant.

Vacation & Notes:  Please indicate your stop location when sending messages.  This saves us having to look it up in the database and we can go straight to the barn lists.  If you get any of the once a month items, like chickens or mushrooms, indicate that so we can mark those lists too.  All but the mushrooms can be delivered the following week, but at least we have a heads up.  Also let us know if you want a credit or to donate the box.   

...if you can resist wolfing down the pint before arriving home... Blueberry Shortcake: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar.  Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly distributed.  Beat 1 egg and 5/8 c. milk and mix with dry ingredients.  Pat out with oiled hands or use a plastic spatula to spread dough onto an oiled cookie sheet about 1/2 " thick.  Bake @375 deg about 20 min. (we use all whole wheat flour with fine results) Top pieces of shortcake with blueberries and whipped cream. Aunt Jeannie’s Zucchini-Coconut Pie:  Beat together 3 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, ½ c. sugar.  Fold in 15 oz. ricotta, 1 tbs. flour, 2 c. grated unpeeled zucchini, ½ c. shredded coconut.  Pour into oiled pie pan.  Bake @ 350 deg. 50 min. or until firm. Can be eaten warm or cold. Fresh Dill Pickle Spears:  Slice 1 or 2 cucumbers into spears and place in a glass quart jar with a few sprigs of fresh dill (or dried or seed).   Then heat 1/8 c salt, 1/4 c vinegar, and 2 c water to boiling with a cut-up clove of garlic.  Pour this over the cukes and when it cools, refrigerate.  (To avoid breaking the jar with the boiling water, run hot tap water on the outside of the jar just before pouring the boiling liquid in.) Cucumber or “white” Gazpacho: Puree until smooth.  3 peeled cucumbers, 3 cloves chopped garlic, 2 c. sour cream, 1 c. plain yogurt, 1 c. chicken broth, 1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper to taste.  Chill several hrs. or overnight.  Garnish with slivered almonds Cucumber Soup: Pare three large cucumbers, cut in lengthwise strips & scrape out seeds. Dice strips.  Saute cucumber gently 10 minutes with ¼ cup diced onion, w/ 4 Tbsp. butter.  Add 3 ½ cups chicken broth, ½ tsp. dill, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and some minced parsley.  Cover & simmer 25 minutes.  Puree in blender until smooth, Return to pot and add 1 cup cream, beat together, add 1 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken.  Bring just to boil.  Before serving, blend in ¼ cup cream.  Optional:  Serve topped with chopped hard-cooked eggs, salt and pepper. For Extra Purchase: Blueberries: 12 pt. flat $60. (half flats available)   Seven Grain bread @$4/loaf.  Indicate the week or weeks.

Posted 7/10/2017 9:48pm by Don Kretschmann.

July 10, 2016

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

We absolutely couldn’t get along without our crew.  Other types of farming have been largely mechanized, but there’s still a need for lots of human labor in vegetable and fruit production.  That’s one reason why “family” almost always used to be the modifier to “farm”—it requires the effort of the whole family.  We’ve certainly drafted all our children into the effort over the years.  Sometimes as subjects for cute pictures, as salespeople, as any kind of help on the farm.  This has extended beyond our children to cousins (Hans, Emily, Rachel, Andrew, and Attila).  Late last week we had a surprise visit by Greg Walsh, one of our first farm helpers.  He and all four of his brothers worked for us in high school and college back in the 1980’s.  They were all here for a family reunion. We’ve also had Erasmo Trejo and his three sons who are currently part of our crew.  We thought it would be great to have them all together for some group pics . Several of the Walshes actually planted our first orchard, digging the holes by hand in high school 32 years ago!  One can see it’s been a family effort in so many ways.

Enjoy the organic blueberries from Rich Hunter. Last year he said he was quitting the business after several bad years.  He relented this year when he saw the good crop coming.  Year in and year out, they are the best “blues” you have ever tasted.    

WQED is promoting a show this Saturday morning, “the Return of the Zucchini”.  We’re really not sure they left.  We’re still picking lots. Check out Pinterest for some ideas.    

The pointed heavy round veggie is a sweet cabbage-variety:Caraflex.  There are tons of ways to enjoy cabbage. Coleslaw on a burger, chicken, or fish sandwich isn’t just for Primati’s.  

We were a hair’s breath from planting our fall carrots and beets when another thunderstorm rolled in.  Cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, and green beans need to be planted too.  Hope to get a break soon.  Normally it’s drying out about this time of summer. 

Dodging the raindrops, we are sincerely,                                            

Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew    

Zucchini Bread: Beat 3 eggs until light and foamy.  Add 2 c.sugar, 1 c. oil, 2 c, grated zucchini and 3 tsp. vanilla and mix lightly but well.  Combine 3 c. all purpose flour,  1 tsp salt,  1 tsp. soda, ¼ tsp. baking powder, and 3 tsp cinnamon and add to the egg-zucchini mixture.  Stir until well blended, add 1 c nuts, pour into two 9x5x3-inch oiled and floured loaf pans.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about one hour.  Cool ten minutes and remove from pans.  It keeps well and freezes well.  Thanks Judith Squash/Potato Medley: Slice new potatoes and zucchini crosswise to their length so they’re about the same diameter.  Saute some onions (green or bulbing) until tender.  Oil baking dish, spread onions on bottom, then arrange zucchini and potatoes so they alternate.  You can add sliced tomatoes too.  Sprinkle with herb of your choice—thyme or oregano are good—then generously with shredded cheese.  Bake @350 until veggies are tender. 

Zucchini Pizza: Oil cookie sheet.  Slice zucchini lengthwise in strips about 1/3” thick and arrange on sheet.  Top with tomato sauce and shredded cheese.  Bake until tender and just becoming leathery. We made this salad last week and it was refreshingly light with the cucumber

Summer Potato Salad: Boil 2# of new potatoes until just tender (don’t over cook).  Drain, cool, and slice into bite sized pieces.  Halve and then quarter 1-2 cucumbers lengthwise.  Then slice thinly.  Add these to potatoes with 1c. chopped fresh parsley.  Dress with ¼ c. mayonnaise, ¼ c. wine or cider vinegar, 2 tbs. sugar or honey.  Toss well adding pepper and salt to taste.

Fresh Dill Pickle Spears:  Slice 1 or 2 cucumbers into spears and place in a glass quart jar with a few sprigs of fresh dill (or dried or seed).   Then heat 1/8 c salt, 1/4 c vinegar, and 2 c water to boiling with a cut-up clove of garlic.  Pour this over the cukes and when it cools, refrigerate.  (To avoid breaking the jar with the boiling water, run hot tap water on the outside of the jar just before pouring the boiling liquid in.)

For Extra Purchase: Blueberries: 12 pt. flat $60. (half flats available)   Seven Grain bread @$4/loaf.  Indicate the week or weeks.  

Posted 7/10/2017 9:45pm by Don Kretschmann.

July 3, 2016

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,   

I don’t know whether it’s an official word in Spanish (Spanglish ?), but it’s one word we don’t really want to hear, “dumpe” --as in fell, spilled, is broken...as in a wakeup phone call 6:30 Saturday morning, “El tanke de gasoline en el trucke dumpe.”  What?  Tell me again...thinking leaks, stolen (which has happened)...  What do you mean “dumpe”?   Oh, the strap on the gas tank was rusty. And you just filled it with gas?  Yes. OMG!  Visions of gas leaking in the street, tank damaged, sitting under the pickup.   Re-purposing my brain from a quiet overcast morning catching up on bookkeeping, to desperate creative solutions about how to lift the tank off the street, possibly siphoning the gas, doing whatever it takes to get the truck to a mechanic to fix.  After gathering likely tools and mats to lay on under the truck, off to town to see what could be done.  Luckily it was only a strap which had broken and was not the one on the end with the fill spout.  Two ratchet straps were perfect for lifting the tank back into place so it could be driven.  7:30 we were at the mechanic’s, but sign said no one there until 8:30.  Pikers!  

Hope you enjoy the first cucumbers, many of which are picklers this year. Sorrily, we didn’t get dill seeded until later.  We hope those cucurbits are still coming when dill is bigger.  Needless, the pickling cucs are great in salads and other uses because they generally have far fewer seeds and are very sweet and firm.  Enjoy the first “new” potatoes.  Keep them refrigerated as you can see they don’t really have skins yet.  They will turn black like potatoes do after you cut them.   

Upcoming: Fennel is coming along nicely; sweet Carafex cabbage (pointy heads), tiny green beans are forming (about 10 days out); blueberries are also on the horizon.   First beets prompt these instructions for newbies to cooking with fresh beets: cut off tops about an inch above the root.  Boil until tender.  A paring knife inserted reveals they are tender (about 15 min. depending on size). Cool under running water and “slip” off the outer skins.  Then slice them up or cut as desired.  We’re convinced there’s no necessity to get beets spiffy clean before boiling.  Beet tops can be cooked a lot like swiss chard (actually they are in the very same family).      

Zucchini!  What can I say?  It slowed down just barely last week, but is again off to the races.  We received some great favorite recipes from subscribers (below). And we’ve heard spiralizers do wonders to cut them down to size.      

If greens—chard, kale, collards—are getting ahead of you, they are very easy to blanch in boiling water, drain, chop and freeze for use later on.  We typically freeze lots of them for use at our church’s monthly breakfast frittata. Same for zucchini.  Any size can be shredded and frozen for making holiday zucchini breads.   

It’s cheese week.  If you were supposed to get cheese and didn’t, let us know so we can get it to you next week.

Enjoying magnificent fireflys, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew  

ID: Odd herb is spearmint.   

Zucchini Strudel: Coarsely grate 4 c. zucchini, mix with tsp salt in colander, let stand ½ hr., then press out extra liquid.  Saute 1 ½ c. chopped onion and 2 minced cloves garlic in ¼ c. olive oil until soft.  (can use green onions and scapes too)  Add the zucchini, 1 tbs. chopped fresh parsley, 1 tbs fresh mint, 2 tbs fresh or 1  ½ dried dill, ½ tsp pepper to the saucepan and saute another 10 min.  In large bowl mix 4 slightly beaten eggs, 2 c. cottage cheese, 2 c. crumbled feta (10 oz.) 2 tbs. flour then add the zucchini mixture.  Preheat oven to 350 deg. Using ½ # filo dough, spread about half in the bottom and up the sides of 9x13 pan, a few layers at a time, brushing each layer generously with melted butter.   Then pour filling in.  Cover the top with sheets of filo spread with butter.  Bake 45 min in oven preheated to 350.   Thanks Nancy L.

Zucchini Soup: Brown 1 med. Chopped onion in saucepan.  Add 1 clove minced garlic.  Next add 2# cubed, peeled zucchini (large seeds removed), 2 qts. chicken stock, 3-4 fresh tomatoes (or 1 small can chopped tomatoes), ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ½ tsp basil, ¼ tsp oregano and cook, covered, for approximately two hours or until zucchini is soft.  Last half hour, drop marble-size meatballs into broth .  DO NOT BROWN THEM FIRST.  Cook for 30 min. then add 1 ½ c.uncooked noodles or spaghetti—broken is fine—cooking until noodles soften.  Add grated Romano cheese to bottom of soup bowl, then soup and noodles. 

Zuccanoes: Scoop out several large zucchinis leaving about 1/4" shell.  Finely mince the insides.  Saute one onion minced onion and two cloves garlic per zuc in olive oil 5 min., add minced zucchini, and 1/4# mushrooms and saute another 8 min.  Mix 1 c. rice with the sauted veggies, add 1   tbs lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (parsley, thyme, basil..).  One can also add 1/2 minced almonds, sunflower seeds, or other nuts if you like a little crunchy texture.  Top with grated swiss cheese.  Bake @350 deg. 40 min

Rice Noodles with Diablo Sauce and Greens: Blend until smooth:  2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, 3 large garlic cloves or 1/4 c. fresh garlic scapes,  3 Tbs. Minced fresh ginger, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 2 Tbs. Honey,  4 tbs lemon or lime juice, 1/2 cup sesame oil, 1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper (more or less to taste).  Salt.  Saute in 1 tbs. Olive oil:  ½ c chopped scallions 2-3 min, then add  6 c. chopped chard or beet greens and cook another 5 min until tender.  Meanwhile, to a large pot of boiling water, add 12 ounces soba noodles and a tiny bit of oil.  Cook until al dente (slightly hard in the middle) –5 min.  Drain. Place noodles on plates, spoon sauce and top with greens then more sauce.

Cucs in Sour Cream: Select 2 tender young cucumbers; peel one but leave the other unpeeled. Slice very fine. sprinkle with salt and let stand just three minutes, thus removing any bitter taste of the skin. Mince 1/2 onion [used your spring onions] and add to cucumbers. Mix dressing of 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon mustard; pour over cucumbers. Serve at once for full flavor. 

New Potatoes with Onion:  Wash new potatoes and cut up into fork sized pieces.  Cut up ½ c. green onions enough so they will fit in the blender, add about 1/4 c. olive oil, salt, a little water.  Blend and toss potatoes with this and bake them on an oiled cookie sheet at 350 deg until golden tender. You can also just toss with oil and dry onion soup mix.

Tabouleh: to 1c. cooked bulgur (cracked) wheat, add 1/2 c olive oil, 1/2 c lemon juice, 1 bunch finely chopped scallions, lg bunch finely chopped parsley.  Salt to taste. (Cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery can also be finely chopped and added.)  In this case, one can put all ingredients in a ceramic or glass crock (wheat uncooked) with the tomatoes and cucumbers on top and refrigerate for at least 1 day, and up to two weeks.  Another refreshing addition is a little finely chopped fresh mint.

Posted 7/10/2017 9:42pm by Don Kretschmann.

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,  

Zucchini is still king along with greens and coles, though we’re excited to see many different veggies on the horizon now. 

A golfcart ride around the farm on the gorgeous Sunday revealed cucumbers were starting to form, cabbage heading up, green beans flowering (2-3 weeks out), onions starting to bulb, eggplant flowering, and beets sizing.  Coming and going to fields one always has an eye out for the wild rasberries which occupy the field/forest margin.  One tends to be territorial about this too, as in, “I have my secret patch of rasberries; no, not telling you.”

We’ve moved on to our second planting of lettuce.  The smaller tender heads will be a change from the tremendous ones last week.  We’re looking forward this week to pleasantly cool weather so we can stake and tie all the tomatoes we mulched last week.  Hard squashes were seeded Monday; the fall potatoes to be planted next (the early ones are flowering and should yield the first new potatoes in just a few weeks) . This will be the end of the strawberries.  All the rain late last week caused many of those last berries to deteriorate.    Most years zucchini starts out with lots of male blossoms and after a week or so, the females with zucchinis.  This year there were zucs right out of the gate, but now there’s a lul with many many male flowers.  There are all sorts of ways to make them, most popularly deep fried coated with batter.  But there’s also soups and stuffing with sausage etc.    

If greens—chard, kale, collards—are getting ahead of you, they are very easy to blanch in boiling water, drain, chop and freeze for use later on.  We typically freeze lots of them for use at our church’s monthly breakfast frittata. Same for zucchini.  Any size can be shredded and frozen for making holiday zucchini breads.   

It’s mushroom and coffee week.  If you were supposed to get these and didn’t, let us know.     

Enjoying these long days of solstice, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew       

ID: Herb is basil. We like to call basil the queen of the herbs.  It’s unique and pleasing.  Flowers are squash flowers—edible and choice.     

Pesto:  1 c. fresh basil leaves, pinch salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, 2 T pine nuts (or walnuts), 1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese.  Combine in blender or food processor until texture is slightly grainy.   Mix well with your favorite pasta.  It’s also great on pizza.     A favorite sweet pickle recipe from years ago in the Ball Blue Book.  Becky used to make these and sell them at the farmers’ markets.  Made with zucchini, they are much firmer than pickles made using cucumbers.     Zucchini Pickles:  Cut up 2 lbs. zucchini in thin slices.  Peel quarter and cut 2 small onions into thin slices.  Cover onions and zucchini with water, add ¼ c. pickling salt, and let stand 2 hrs. Drain thoroughly.  Bring 3 c. cider vinegar, 2 c. sugar, 1 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp tumeric, 2 tsp mustard seed to boil and pour over zucchini and onions. Let stand 2 hrs. then heat everything to boiling for 5 min. At this point, you can put pickles in jars and refrigerate when cool, or pack into pint canning jars and process in boiling water bath for 15 min.   One subscriber put it: “Zucchini on the grill with the oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper with our burgers tonight.  Delicious:-)”    

Another subscriber recommendation...    

New Mexico style Calabacita:  Saute 2 c. diced zucchini, 1 c. diced onion (or green onions), 2 cloves garlic (or equiv. scapes) until zucs start to soften and brown.  Add 1 minced jalapeno or other chili (Poblano), for a minute.  Sir in 2 c. corn kernels—fresh, frozen or canned and 2   diced  tomatoes (or 1/4 c. tomato sauce), 1tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. oregano.  Stir and cover until warmed.  Season with 2 tsp butter, salt and pepper.  Make a great side dish topped with shredded cheese if desired, or can be used as taco, enchilada, or burrito filling. –thanks Natalie   

Just in case one of those buggers continued to size up after it got into your box J...   

Zuccanoes: Scoop out several large zucchinis leaving about 1/4" shell.  Finely mince the insides.  Saute one onion minced onion and two cloves garlic per zuc in olive oil 5 min., add minced zucchini, and 1/4# mushrooms and saute another 8 min.  Mix 1 c. rice with the sauted veggies, add 1   tbs lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (parsley, thyme, basil..).  One can also add 1/2 minced almonds, sunflower seeds, or other nuts if you like a little crunchy texture.  Top with grated swiss cheese.  Bake @350 deg. 40 min   

Squash Blossoms in Beer Batter: Remove stems from blossoms. Wisk ¾ c. cake flour with ¾ c. beer and salt.  Dip blossoms in batter and deep fry.    Italian Greens and Beans: Steam 1 large bunch collard, kale, or swiss chard until tender.  Meanwhile sauté 1 clove garlic, 1 c. chopped onions, leeks, or scallions, in 4 tbs. olive oil.  Add 1 large tomato chopped or 4 tbs tomato sauce, the greens, 2 c. drained white beans, and if desired ½#   Italian sausage. Cook well.  Season w/salt,pepper, hot pepper flakes to taste, toss well.      And from Becky’s side of the family... 

Haluske: Saute a shredded cabbage and several sliced onions in oil or butter.  Add a pound or so of your favorite pasta.  Noodles or spaghetti work well.  Salt to taste.

Posted 7/10/2017 9:39pm by Don Kretschmann.

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,  

It even surprised us how much zucchini we picked the first time through the field.  Generally there are lots of male flowers and after a good week of that, the female flowers and zucchini develop.  Not this year.  Box after box, we picked and passed them out of the field. 

Good to see our helpers back from Mexico. We’ve gotten a lot done in their first few days back, including mulching all the tomatoes.   We’re still mourning loss of their father.   

We’ve had no need to worry about irrigation-generally-except under the plastic mulch we use for warming the soil in the zucchini and cucumber fields.  All that rain is also growing a terrific crop of weeds.  Beets and carrots are competing for their lives.     

It looks like the start of one of the best zucchini crops ever.  The plants grew so well, they just overwhelmed the weeds in the aisleways.  If you have a favorite zuc recipe, please share.    Along with everything else, we’ve had a spate of machinery issues—bad starter in one tractor; leaking anti-freeze in another; one walk-in cooler not working.  Always something...

As spring turns summer, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew

ID: Herb in a bag is oregano.  It’s not something you want to keep in the bag in your refrigerator. It dries easily with good aeration. After which you can crush it between your hands and put it in your spice jars. Ropey looking green stems are garlic scapes.  Use where you would use garlic. Strawberry Pie-- Combine 2T. cornstarch+ 1c. sfugar+ 1 1/2c. boiling water.  Cook for 2 min. stirring occasionally, then add 1 box jello.  Remove from heat and stir well, then pour over 1 qt. cleaned strawberries.  Cool and put in a baked piecrust, top w/whipped cream and garnish w/ strawberries.  

Zucchini Ideas: 

Zucchini Pizzettes:  Slice zucchini into ¼” rounds.  Brush cookie sheet with olive oil.  Lay out zucchini on sheet then brush with olive oil.  Bake 10 min @350.  Remove and add dab of marinara sauce and grated cheese of your choice. Continue baking until cheese is bubbly Zucchini Parmesan:  Cut up zucchini into quartered slices kind of like you’d do a dill pickle spear.  Lay on oiled cookie sheet or 9x16 pan and brush top with olive oil.  Mix together ½ c. grated parmesan, garlic powder, and mix of Mediterranean herbs—basil, oregano, thyme are good. Spread on top of zucs.  Bake @350 15 min.  Then broil 5 min until golden.

Grilled Herbed Zucchini:  Slice 3 zucchini into ½” rounds.  Beat together 4 tbs. melted butter,1/4 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp lemon juice, and Mediterranean herbs of your choice (oregano, thyme, and basil are great)  Brush zucchini with mixture and grill until blackened and just tender on both sides.

ZucScampi-make Shrimp Scampi then add a grated zucchini or two...cook barely a minute or two longer.

Zucchini Lasagna: Preheat your favorite tomato sauce.  Slice zucchinis 1/4” thick in rounds or lengthwise.  Mix 1# ricotta cheese with 1/2c minced parsley.  Brush bottom of baking dish with olive oil. (9x13” is our favorite size)  Spread layer of tomato sauce on bottom of pan, then add first layer of uncooked lasagna.  Spread layer of zucchini, then layer of ricotta, and then a more tomato sauce.  Repeat the process until the pan is full and top with grated mozzarella.  Bake covered at 325 deg. until pasta is cooked, then remove cover and bake another 10 min. 

ZucchiniParmesanStrips: Combine 1/3c bread crumbs w. 1/4c. grated parmesan. Cut zucchini in lengthwise strips. Dip in egg, then in crumb mix. Place on oiled baking sheet for 20 min. at 450 degrees.

Easy to make without a lot of bother.  The secret is: don’t cook the pasta. Zucchini Lasagna: Preheat your favorite tomato sauce.  Slice zucchinis 1/4” thick in rounds or lengthwise.  Mix 1# ricotta cheese with 1/2c minced parsley.  Brush bottom of baking dish with olive oil. (9x13” is our favorite size)  Spread layer of tomato sauce on bottom of pan, then add first layer of uncooked lasagna.  Spread layer of zucchini, then layer of ricotta, and then a more tomato sauce.  Repeat the process until the pan is full and top with grated mozzarella.  Bake covered at 325 deg. until pasta is cooked, then remove cover and bake another 10 min. 

Garlicy Collards: Remove thick rib from leaves and coarsely chop collards. Then parboil for 5 min., drain.   Saute diced garlic scapes 2 min. then add the collards and continue for another 5 min. until they are tender.  Salt & pepper.  Lemon or balsamic vinegar if desired.

Posted 7/10/2017 9:37pm by Don Kretschmann.

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,  

The heat wave has us picking greens at the crack of dawn to avoid wilting.  We hope the broccoli isn’t overstressed and continues to head well. Hot and dry are not ideal for this crop.   By late last week it looked like irrigation was in order for the scallions and parsley.  Becky had tickets for a late afternoon/evening Pirate game and I didn’t quite have time to set up and decided there would still be plenty of daylight afterward for the short job of connecting the water lines.  At 8:30 I laid the header and connected to the drip lines and started the pump. Pressure was unusually low, so I checked back at the pump where it was 80psi.-plenty. I suspected a faulty valve, but that wasn’t it, then began checking each hydrant on the barn side of the pond—no problems there.  Then I began checking on the far side of the pond and quickly saw the problem.  I was shocked seeing water pouring out and down the hill from a 2” hydrant completely broken off!  How could this have happened?  Someone must know.  As it’s getting dark, I pulled out my cell to call Maria to see.  Then I saw the message: “You’re going to kill me. I was going over to....”   What to do?  This could mean digging down 3’ to replace the hydrant, but because it’s plastic I thought perhaps I could just cut it off where it broke just near the surface and repair with a sleeve. I looked in the shed with irrigation fittings for those we used when constructing the buried lines and found one 2” coupling.  Then I grabbed the glue, fitting, some rags, saw, shovel, and headed out in the golf cart into the darkness.  Half hour later texted Maria with a reassuring pic.  Reply: “Good job, Dad”   

Staying Top of the Food Chain: The farm fields are edged on nearly every side by woods in which lurk (vast herds of) deer. When we retire, or even just break for lunch, out they come to munch on all those delicious organic crops.  Years ago we discovered a very effective method of keeping them out of our production fields—a single strand of electric fence charged by a New Zealand style solar powered fencer.  But the key factor is that every yard or so, we dab a minute amount of PEANUT BUTTER!  Deer smell it and cannot resist, are shocked, and don’t return.  For the first time in memory, we recently saw extensive grazing by deer inside the protective fencing.  We’ve always used whatever peanut butter we have in the house—always 100% natural peanuts, generally organic.  To save money this spring, Becky had gotten a jar of Skippy peanut butter which now we have found just doesn’t cut it with our spoiled gourmet deer.  Back to the better grade...    

Incoming: Zucchini, cabbage.

As the season unfolds, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew

Note: Big Thanks to the Subscriber Crew who helped out Saturday, filling in the labor gap until the three Trejos return from Mexico.  You were a Godsend! We can’t wait until the full crew returns. We’ve been filling in with lots of day-help from various friends and acquaintances of Maria.  It’s a challenge, but so’s farming.

It only really happens once a year...

Strawberry Shortcake: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar.  Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly distributed.  Beat 1 egg and 5/8 c. milk and mix with dry ingredients.  Pat out with oiled hands or use a plastic spatula to spread dough onto an oiled cookie sheet about 1/2 " thick.  Bake @375 deg about 20 min. (we use all whole wheat flour with fine results)  Cut up strawberries, whip the cream....mmmm.

Tabouleh:  to 1c. cooked bulgur (cracked) wheat, add 1/4 c olive oil, 1/4 c lemon juice, 1 bunch finely chopped scallions, lg bunch finely chopped parsley.  Salt to taste. (Cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery can also be finely chopped and added.)  In this case, one can put all ingredients in a ceramic or glass crock (wheat uncooked) with the tomatoes and cucumbers on top and refrigerate for at least 1 day, and up to two weeks.  Another refreshing addition is a little finely chopped fresh mint.  Serve on bed of lettuce or Lebanese style, wrapped in single lettuce leaves and eaten out of hand. Open Face Broccoli Sandwiches: Cut up broccoli into bite sized pieces and steam until just tender.  Lay slices of your favorite hearty whole wheat bread on cookie sheet.  Spread a dollop of sour cream or creamy ricotta on each slice of bread.  Arrange the broccoli on each slice and press into the sour cream. Top with a little of your favorite grated cheese and a few sunflower seeds for crunch.  Place in hot oven (400 deg) or broil until bread is toasted & cheese is melted.

Garlicy Collards: Remove thick rib from leaves and coarsely chop collards. Then parboil for 5 min., drain.   Saute diced garlic scapes 2 min. then add the collards and continue for another 5 min. until they are tender.  Salt & pepper.  Lemon or balsamic vinegar if desired.

P.S. Sending messages, please either indicate your pickup site letters, or just reply to this message where it’s already indicated at the top. It saves us having to look it up on the database.

Posted 7/10/2017 9:35pm by Don Kretschmann.

Greetings from the Kretschmanns,

   No one could have foreseen the start of this season without four key helpers from Mexico. We’ve depended on them as our primary field workers so long that we cannot remember the days before.  Angel, Erasmo’s oldest son has worked here for 12 years.  He was a mind-reading modern version of his dad, who had grown up tilling the soil with oxen in Mexico.  Angel has become a most competent and trusted employee.  Brother Daniel, in his third year, is very fun-loving like his dad.  We just heard today that young Diego, whom we’ve never met, is still planning to come with his brothers.  But all of them aren’t coming for a week. Yikes—Los Tres Hermanos! We’ve managed to fill in with friends and family to an amazing degree thus far, but it feels like we’re swimming as fast as we can just to stay afloat.  **    Periodic rain has been great for growing plants and fruit (and of course weeds).  Not much need to irrigate at all.  We’ll be peeking under the various floating row covers to see if the zucchini and cucumbers are ready to invade us.  Couldn’t be too long.  Beets are humming too.       Incoming: More greens—lettuce, kale, collards, parsley, scallions. The first premature broccoli are showing in the field.  

Next week is chicken week.  

Hoping you enjoy the start of the season with all the greens, we are sincerely,                                             Don, Becky,Maria & the Farm Crew Could eat this breakfast, lunch, and dinner...

Our Favorite Shortcake: Sift 2c. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 tbs. sugar.  Mix in 1/2 c. oil well, until evenly distributed.  Beat 1 egg and 5/8 c. milk and mix with dry ingredients.  Pat out with oiled hands or use a plastic spatula to spread dough onto an oiled cookie sheet about 1/2 " thick.  Bake @375 deg about 20 min. (we use all whole wheat flour with fine results)  Cut up strawberries, whip the cream....mmmm. Italian comfort food, and sooo good for you...

Pasta with Kale and Beans:  Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil and saute 4 large minced cloves garlic and 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes 3 min.(or omit pepper is desired).  Stir in 1 1/2 c. cooked cannellini beans and 12 c. shredded kale. Cover and simmer over low hear until the kale is tender and wilted., 3-5 min.  Meanwhile, cook 1# bow tie or penne pasta until al dente, drain, and toss with kale/bean mixture.  Serve with parmesan as desired

P.S. Sending messages, please either indicate your pickup site letters, or just reply to this message where it’s already indicated at the top. It saves us having to look it up on the database.

**SOS--HELP!  Next Saturday 6/10 we’ll welcome anyone who’d like to help on the farm.  We’d like to stake and mulch a field of tomatoes and weed the carrot/beet field. Please RSVP so we know whom to expect.  We’re thinking only children over 14.